A Little Walking Goes a Long Way

By Steve Dale

You won’t find an argument against walking. Walking is the foundation for many exercises, one of the simplest ways to stay active, and has proven health benefits, like increased cardiovascular fitness, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, stronger bones, and increased muscle strength. Everyone, from your friends, to your doctor, to the U.S. Surgeon General, recommends walking! In fact, the Surgeon General recently called on the nation to Step It Up! – a program to promote walking and walkable communities. However, the problem underlies in motivating people to get outside and start walking.

Pet Partners recently unleashed a secret motivator, and you may be able to guess what it is … therapy animals! In response to the Surgeon General’s call to action, Pet Partners created a special initiative called Walk With Me™. Therapy dogs, as well as other therapy animals including mini horses and llamas, are now able to visit independent living centers, rehabilitation institutes, and other similar places to accompany people on walks. Whether it’s around the block or at a nearby park, these people will benefit from companionship and exercise.

“There’s no doubt about the cardiovascular improvements associated with walking, but there are advantages to mental well-being,” said Dr. David Williams, Pet Partners Chief Medical Officer. “Getting the chance to walk with animals may be a stimulus to get out, get some fresh air, and socialize.”

A significant percent of people who stay in places like independent living centers and rehabilitation institutes may suffer from loneliness. The Walk With Me™ initiative aims to combat that by encouraging time in the fresh air and sunshine, socialization with the handlers, and interaction with the therapy animals.

Now, let’s talk about the therapy dogs. Although they are a major part of the positive human experience, they reap many benefits as well!

  • About half of all dogs are overweight – walking and exercising (along with dietary changes) are a great method for dogs to stay in shape! Plus, the walks aren’t usually very long, so older dogs can participate, too.
  • Offering treats, like Vita Bone® Artisan Inspired® biscuits, can be a wonderful opportunity to support the human-animal bond. People love giving dogs treats, of course!
  • It’s not work if you love it, and this rings true for therapy dogs, who are technically on the job when they sport their Pet Partners vests. The Walk With Me™ initiative is definitely the crossroads of business and pleasure for pups – where keeping you company meets grass-sniffing and squirrel-eyeing! Williams even mentioned, as much as his Goldendoodle likes spending time with clients at a hospital or other facility, he loves the opportunity to get outdoors and go for a walk.

Walk With Me™ is healthful, fun, and advantageous for clients – but it’s also extremely valuable for our four-legged friends.


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