Every day we find ourselves engulfed in the mundane routine of work, only to come home to relax in front of a television where we’re bombarded by commercials that tell us that we have to work harder in order to buy more things – it’s no wonder that rates of depression are staggering upon American citizens.
We took the measure to research things that increase your mood and your physical health, an alternative to the television. By doing the heavy lifting we found that dogs and hiking increase your physical and mental health. But what if we were to combine the two? It leads to endorphin city and you should hop on the first train there. Here is why you should hike with your dog:
Research indicates that hiking can help people better cope with severe depression and hopeless feelings, and even motivate them to lead a more active lifestyle. Yet, even if you’re not severely depressed, hiking lets you find your sense of self, a balance, and a center. It overall increases your overall wellbeing. Moreover, studies prove that altitude helps you lose weight, even stating that people who live above sea level are likely to be healthier than their counterparts, who live in standard sea-level communities. According to the Huffington Post, "Tramping through the trails on a regular basis decreases blood pressure and cholesterol. Logging cardio in the form of hiking can lower blood pressure by four to 10 points, and reduce the danger of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes for those at high-risk. And don’t lose heart if you’re not out of breath on the way back. Both the ups and downs have benefits when it comes to lowering cholesterol, but hiking downhill is two times more effective at removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance" But why stop there? Weight loss not only significantly elevates your health but can increase your self-esteem, overall adding to good mental health.
Now, what does this have to do with dogs? Simple, dogs have shown to have similar effects on humans as hiking does. By spending time with your four-legged friends, you lower your chances of having inflammatory cytokines related to depression, dementia, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Harvard University calls this the “Pet Effect”. This positive effect happens because our furry friends reduce stress when we see and interact with them, meaning our heart pressure and rate goes up less and returns to normal more quickly when we're by our dogs.
Looping our points together, dogs and hiking have been proven to have calming effects, although separately, they do coincide with each other. If you purchase or adopt a dog, you are point blank obligated to take care of them by spending time with them. There is no better way to spend time with your dog than to go on a long nature walk or hike together because it's mutually beneficial to both parties. By taking care of a dog, it will, in turn, take care of you.