The Benefits of Physical Activity for Dog and Owner
We have all heard about exercise to boost physical and mental health! But did you know that exercising may also lengthen the life and extend the healthspan (=the amount of time you stay well and active) of both you and your dog?
I can hear you think: ‘But my Shar Pei is a couch dog’. …
And that is okay, he doesn’t have to become an athlete all of a sudden, and neither do you!. Still both you and your Shar Pei can benefit immensely from moderate exercise. So even if running a canicross or agility training isn’t on the horizon, a little goes a long way. So, whether it’s a brisk walk or a playful hour in the yard, Shar Pei can still enjoy the benefits of exercise, contributing to their overall health and well-being.
Exercise has such strong psychological effects that make you happy that at least one study proposes it should be classified as a psychoactive substance.
As an active Shar Pei owner, my experiences with my dogs in activities like canicross, long hikes in nature, and agility have highlighted the impact of physical exercise on both the overall well-being of my dogs and myself. These amazing moments of activities together with my dogs not only create a special bond but also contribute to the many benefits that exercise brings.
Dogs can benefit from exercise much like people can because their musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and neurological systems are identical to ours.
Besides the same psychological benefits, dogs that exercise have superior body condition scores and cardiovascular performance than more sedentary dogs.
Specialists have shown that well trained working dogs perform better and are less prone to injuries. When they do happen, injuries are typically less serious and heal more quickly. Also, reduced stress means more endurance and longevity which is ofcourse a win-win situation for the dog and the handler! Fit dogs also experience less stress.
Exercising starts many processes in the body that begin at a cellular level. Training acts as a trigger for the body to produce more mitochondria in the muscle cells. These cellular powerhouses dramatically boost energy supply by turning oxygen from the air and glucose from the diet into fuel.
Exercise also improves oxygen circulation throughout the body, creating a favorable environment for mitochondria to effectively produce energy.
Increased oxygen levels promote energy production and improve general physiological function, resulting in a more effective energy usage system. Exercise simultaneously raises hormone levels, making the dogs not only more energetic but visibly happier too.
But the benefits of exercise don’t end there.
- Examining it’seffects more closely, we find that it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Regular physical activity has been linked to decreased systemic inflammatory levels5.
- Exercise gives the bodyimproved insulin sensitivity6. This means thatthe inflammatory burden linked to long-term blood sugar rise is reduced and improved blood sugar regulation is facilitated.
- It turns out that exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Regular physical activity promotes reducedstresshormones and relaxation, which counteract chronic stress, a factor in inflammation. As a result,inflammatory processes are discouraged in the surrounding environment.
- Control of Adipose Tissue(Fat tissue):Frequent exercise is essential for controlling adipose tissue, which is a source of chemicals that promote inflammation. Exercise that maintains a healthy body weight decreases the synthesis of inflammatory adipokines, which enhances the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Do you already feel inspired to get off your couch andstart exercising? Some tips to get off to a good start:
Finding a balance is essential!
Moderation is the key with these amazing anti-inflammatory benefits. Excessive or very strenuous activity may increase inflammation. Sothe key to enjoying exercise’s overall health advantages is to participate in frequent(daily), moderate physical activity.
Respect the needs and limitations of your dog and yourself.
Be mindful of age, current health and current fitness level. Build up strenth and stamina gradually.
Take time to recoverafter every training.
The recovery is just as important as the training.
¹Mason & Holt 2012
²Vina et al., 2012
³Menor-Campos et al., 2011; Warren et al., 2011; Bauer et al., 2012; Raichlen et al., 2012
⁴Memme JM, Erlich AT, Phukan G, Hood DA. Exercise and mitochondrial health. J Physiol. 2021
⁵ Petersen AM, Pedersen BK. The anti-inflammatory effect of exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Apr;98(4):1154-62. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00164.2004. PMID: 15772055.
⁶ The Effect of Regular Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, 2016