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David Baxter

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Walking the dog beats loneliness and depression
08.11.06

The benefits to our canine companions have long been known, but now it seems walkies could be just as good for their owners.

New research has revealed that the daily chore of walking the dog can ward off depression and loneliness.

A study by the University of Portsmouth found that the UK's 6.2 million dogs helped motivate their 15 million owners by encouraging them to exercise through a daily walk, even when they didn't feel like it.

The dog walkers surveyed reported that the exercise gave them a better overall sense of well-being as they often met like-minded people, leaving them feeling happier.

Participants in the psychological study also found that even if they were feeling low, they always felt better once they were outside.

Whilst older dog walkers found that the exercise helped them stay physically fitter and maintain social contacts, it also encouraged children to venture outdoors and spend less time in front of the television, according to the report.

The findings by the university's Department of Environmental Design and Management come as conservation experts launch a new campaign to urge more people to "reconnect" with the environment.

A study by Natural England found that taking a stroll outside can boost fitness levels and prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Being close to nature can also cut stress levels, accelerate recovery from operations and help children with attention disorders, researchers found.

Author of the study, Natural England health adviser, Dr William Bird said: "Increasing evidence suggests that both physical and mental health are improved through contact with nature."

"Yet people are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past. This has to change."

According to the research, children with attention disorders are shown to improve when they have contact with nature and those recovering from operations need less painkillers if they are looking out onto green fields.

Dr Bird also found that people were more likely to keep up regular exercise regimes like walking, if they took place in natural settings instead of on the gym treadmill.

Now the conservation agency has launched an initiative to create "breathing spaces" and mobilise more than a million people to enjoy their local green areas.

Natural England chief executive Helen Phillips said: "Prevention is better than cure but up to 97 per cent of NHS spend goes on treating people after they have become ill.

"We are working with the NHS to plan ways in which the environment is used as a natural' health service that gets, and keeps, more people healthy."
 

ThatLady

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Ya know, walking your cat (or, attempting to walk your cat) can do the same thing. Here are the steps:

1) Put collar (or harness) and leash on cat

2) Open door and show cat the great out-of-doors

3) Encourage cat to accompany you on a lovely walk in the fresh air

4) Watch cat sit down and put one foot over the leash

5) Stoop to stroke and reassure cat

6) Again encourage cat to accompany you for your daily walk-about

7) Watch cat sit down and put both feet over the leash, glaring at you as only a cat can glare

8) Realize how really silly this all is and dissolve into gales of laughter

9) Remove collar (or harness) and leash from cat and watch cat smirk

10) Laugh again at what a dumb idea this was in the first place

Depression? What's that? :D
 

foghlaim

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thank you for the laughs you guys!! I needed them.. :)


as for the article... well yer man there was right, we don't need research to tell us that pets are good for us.

""Yet people are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past. This has to change."

one reason (among others) for this is because nature is slowly being eroded all round us.. many concrete jungles are now standing in places where nice parks, forests ect once were. "this has to change" How? drive for miles (depending on where you live of course) till you eventually find a suitable spot or designated green area or nature reserve.

thankfully for me i'm only a stones throw from many forest parks ects.. but i often wonder for how long. .
 

yellodolphin

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Ive always wanted a dog I think it would be so nice to always not be alone even if its just with a dog. I have suffered depression in the past but i hope i wont go through it agian. One thing about depression for me was definately the sad feeling of loneliness even if you have people around, maybe a dog would help.

I wonder if having a loving relationship with a dog has the same effect on the brain as a human social relationship.

Well If i have money i will get a dog i think.
 

Halo

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I wonder if having a loving relationship with a dog has the same effect on the brain as a human social relationship.

I think this is a really good question and was wondering if anyone knows the answer?
 

yellodolphin

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I think this is a really good question and was wondering if anyone knows the answer?

Honestly id imagine it really does. People who have pets always say they are part of the family u know, like theyve bonded to them in a loving way.
 

Halo

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Thanks for the response Yellodolphin and I suspect that you are probably right. I know that I had a dog when I was younger and she did become part of the family and we all loved her so much.....even though she didn't like me much :(
 

Banned

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I can say that my dogs have literally saved me from myself on numerous occasions. I'm probably one of the laziest dog owners - I don't walk them very often in the winter (hey - that's the advantage to small dogs!) but having them around is incredibly therapeutic for me. In the summer we go for hours in the parks every day...it lets me get away from myself, think, watch the dogs do what they just naturally and innocently do...

I remember when I got my first dog about 13 years ago I said to myself "I"m going to run every day with this dog!". Yeah...that never happened, and now I have a treadmill, but it's nice to have them around. I couldn't imagine waking up a day without them. I probably wouldn't last long on my own....
 

Halo

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BG

I do believe that she didn't like me or any other child for that matter. She was a tempermental toy poodle that was protective of my parents only and didn't like children at all. She would attack (or try to attack being that she was so small) us children and remember times when she would chase me and I would jump on counter tops to get away from her. She was abused by a child (not related in our family) when she was a puppy and hated children from then on. I do have to admit that she could be loving and caring with us as long as my parents were around to protect her. I never took it personally that she didn't like me I knew that she didn't like any children given her past experience....she was probably suffering PTSD if that is possible with dogs??

I guess dogs and humans are probably more alike then I thought :)
 

yellodolphin

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BG

I do believe that she didn't like me or any other child for that matter. She was a tempermental toy poodle that was protective of my parents only and didn't like children at all. She would attack (or try to attack being that she was so small) us children and remember times when she would chase me and I would jump on counter tops to get away from her. She was abused by a child (not related in our family) when she was a puppy and hated children from then on. I do have to admit that she could be loving and caring with us as long as my parents were around to protect her. I never took it personally that she didn't like me I knew that she didn't like any children given her past experience....she was probably suffering PTSD if that is possible with dogs??

I guess dogs and humans are probably more alike then I thought :)

Dont let that experience sour ur opinion on dogs. Some dogs are not good with children and some i imagine can be aggresive like people.

But the dogs ive had experience with seem to be beautiful loving creatures.
 

yellodolphin

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I can say that my dogs have literally saved me from myself on numerous occasions. I'm probably one of the laziest dog owners - I don't walk them very often in the winter (hey - that's the advantage to small dogs!) but having them around is incredibly therapeutic for me. In the summer we go for hours in the parks every day...it lets me get away from myself, think, watch the dogs do what they just naturally and innocently do...

I remember when I got my first dog about 13 years ago I said to myself "I"m going to run every day with this dog!". Yeah...that never happened, and now I have a treadmill, but it's nice to have them around. I couldn't imagine waking up a day without them. I probably wouldn't last long on my own....

cool man sounds dogs are a great companion for you.

Hey how much do you spend per year on a dog?? I really want one but my only potential limitation is financial as im a student.
 

Halo

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Dont let that experience sour ur opinion on dogs. Some dogs are not good with children and some i imagine can be aggresive like people.

But the dogs ive had experience with seem to be beautiful loving creatures.

That experience has not left me sour on the whole experience of getting another dog as I do plan on getting one in the future. I say future because right now with working two jobs and not being home a lot I would not guilty for leaving him or her home alone for such a long length of time. Once my second job finishes for good (in September) and I am back to only one job then I will definitely be getting one. I can't wait to be honest :D I just know that it won't be a toy poodle :(
 

David Baxter

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For now, though, you could just get a stuffed dog. No feeding. No housetraining. No walking in the winter. No barking at the window. :D
 

Halo

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Why not just go absolutely wild and get a stuffed lion or tiger :lol:
 

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