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Drawn from peer-reviewed papers delivered at a symposium entitled Research Meets Practice: Human-animal Interaction in Obesity Across the Lifespan, part of the larger 18th Annual Conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology, held in Kansas City, Missouri in October 2009, this collection examines the effective use of dog walking as a tool for promoting healthy lifestyles in a variety of populations. Topics discussed include physical activity recommendation for dog walking, dog walking as a community strengthening activity, dog walking for senior populations, dog obesity, dog walking and canine health and healthy behavior modification programs for youth and dogs. Contributors include academics and professionals in wide variety of fields including veterinary medicine, child development, health and psychology. (Annotation C2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
How Dog's Spread Happiness
The result? Better Health For you!
January 19, 2012
Science is only beginning to understand the intrinsic relationship we have with dogs. “I always want dogs in my life,” says Katherine Heigl — and it appears that will pay off for her in multiple ways. The mere act of petting a dog can cause a chain of events. Instantly, neurotransmitters in our heads do a happy dance — it’s involuntary. We feel good.
When we feel good, we are more likely to smile. Whenever we smile, still more neurotransmitters are fired. That’s why experts say just smiling is good for us.
Studies show that when petting a dog, a hormone called oxytocin kicks into high gear. Oxytocin, which is sometimes dubbed “the cuddle hormone,” helps reduce blood pressure and decreases levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress and anxiety.
If this is the case, might petting a dog be a substitute for an anti-anxiety medication? To at least some degree, the answer is yes. As a result, some doctors have suggested that dogs are sometimes better than Prozac.
For years it’s been thought that sharing your life with a dog is healthful. Now scientists are not only confirming it’s true, but they’re also beginning to understand why.
It turns out that increased oxytocin may offer additional benefits. Just after childbirth, oxytocin levels in mothers soar, and it’s thought that it cements a bond between mothers and newborns. Is our connection with dogs similarly bonded? No one knows.
And one more thing: Recent studies suggest people supplemented with oxytocin heal faster. Perhaps the healing properties of elevated oxytocin at least partially explain the benefits of therapy dogs.
For decades, there have been anecdotal stories of dogs visiting a children’s hospital or rehab center and seeming to promote healing. In recent years, medical science has documented that such benefits can be real.
Even the simple act of taking a dog for a walk is healthful. There’s the obvious cardiovascular benefit. Also, as Rebecca A. Johnson, Alan M. Beck and Sandra McCune say in their book, The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets & People, dogs are a social lubricant. That’s a fancy way of saying you are more likely to stop and chat with people when you have a wagging tail at the end of a leash.
All dog owners know that strangers who wouldn’t give you a second glance, much less stop to chat, might do so if you have a dog. Or at least people may more likely smile as they walk by. Since we know smiling helps people feel good, walking a dog is a way to spread a little bit of happiness.
No wonder the presence of dogs in a community is considered an important barometer when measuring quality of life.
Actor John O’Hurley, host of the National Dog Show Presented by Purina each Thanksgiving, says, “When a dog wags his tail, it is connected to his heart.” Apparently, those tail wags are also connected to our hearts, and our heads.
Hindustan Times, December 6, 2012
Obesity is an increasing problem among all age groups, across the globe. Walking - one of the most basic forms of exercise - can play an important role in fighting this problem. It is estimated that by 2018, the cost of treating weight related illnesses will double to almost $350 billion a year, while a 2010 report by the US Surgeon General estimates that two-thirds of American adults and almost one in three children are ow overweight or obese.
The book, The Health Benefits of Dog Waling for Pets & People , provides case studies and evidences on how human-animal interaction can help fight obesity. While sharing your life with a dog is healthful at many levels, studies suggest that dog walkers often walk more than those without dogs.
The various topics discussed int he book include physical activity recommendation for dog walking, dog walking as a community strengthening activity, dog walking for senior populations, dog obesity, canine health and healthy behaviour modification programmes for he youth and dogs. Apart from the health benefits, the book also suggest that one is more likely to stop and chat with people walking a dog than with those walking alone.
Though the language used in the book is not difficult to understand, it is technical and may not interest all. go for it if you're looking for in-depth information on the subject. In India the book is only available online.