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Pets and movement

5 minutes

The physical benefits of an active lifestyle are no secret. Moving more through regular exercise improves everything about your being; muscular fitness, bone density and weight management for starters.

Regular exercise keeps your heart happy, reduces your risk of developing a long list of chronic illnesses and diseases and arguably most importantly, physical activity is hugely beneficial to mental wellbeing. It alleviates stress, boredom and anxiety, helps with better sleep and boosts energy levels.

In short, a decision to move more is the best way to make the most of life, but what about those who aren’t able to make that decision themselves? For example, our pets!

We are a nation of animal lovers. The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report 2016 estimates that 51% of UK households own a pet. That’s a whopping 1.1 million rabbits, 9.3 million dogs and 10.3 million cats cuddling up to owners, all around the country.

Despite our devotion to our furry friends, many owners will not have considered how the healthy choices we make for our own physical and mental wellbeing could be applied to the lives of our pets and benefit them too. There are lots of things we, as pet owners, can do to get our pets moving more which will help keep them healthy and happy for longer.

Leaving pets alone for the majority of the day is sometimes unavoidable. In the wild, rabbits are social creatures that will run, jump, play and dig, all of which is limited if confined to a hutch for long periods of time without a play mate or two.

A run with space for rabbits to play and toys to chew or climb on can help keep them busy while their owners are at work, but nothing will occupy those with too much time on their paws better than exploring outdoors in a secure garden. Although careful supervision is required if you are particularly fond of your geraniums!

Cats can be elusive. They run their own schedule and are well equipped to entertain themselves outdoors, climbing trees and stalking prey which keeps them fit and healthy. House cats are still programmed to want to do those things which is why environment enrichment is so important for these intelligent animals.

Cat trees for climbing will satisfy an adventurous nature, scratching posts for scent marking offer the opportunity to display natural behaviours and creative feeding regimes to make house cats work for their food are a great way to get pets moving more. Interactive play is great cardio workout and can strengthen the bond between a cat and their owner… especially if it’s followed by a post-play chin rub.

Owning a dog can provide a great source of comfort and companionship and, as dogs require daily exercise, it can also be a huge motivation to get active.

Getting outdoors provides an overwhelming sensory experience for a dog but the change of scenery that a walk in the park provides is mutually beneficial for humans, both physically and mentally. What better encouragement is there than an excitable dog who can’t wait to get outside and make the most of life with you?

Author Simplyhealth Professionals Published on