Four-Legged Motivators

Here are five ways that pets can lend a helping paw toward living a healthier life and accomplishing New Year’s resolutions

Photo by Alvin Balemesa via Unsplash

Part of the beauty of looking forward to a new year are the changes we excitedly vow to make at its start. To keep the optimistic momentum going and stay on track with 2021 goals, the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit animal welfare organization, recommends turning to pets to help keep motivation high. Here are five ways that pets can lend a helping paw toward accomplishing New Year’s resolutions:

Get Moving 

Dogs love to get exercise and do it with such enthusiasm that they’re sure to make you smile as you head out the door. Walking at a vigorous pace for just 30 minutes, five times per week can provide the moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise most physicians recommend. To ease into the routine, try a 10 minute walk at your own pace and increase the time by five minutes each week). 

Ease Stress 

Research shows that spending quality time with pets can lessen anxiety, lower blood pressure, and bolster the immune system. To make the most of stress relieving benefits, take a daily 15 minute break with your cat or dog to meditate is a great start. Sit with your pet in a quiet, comfortable place, focus on being present, breathe deeply, and stroke your pet’s fur. For the yogis, break out a yoga mat and do some poses with your pet, which will not only ease stress, but also provide a gentle workout.   

Eat Better 

Did your eating habits change in 2020? This year, swap out fatty, sweet, or salty treats and start sharing some good-for-you snacks with your pet.  

Dogs can eat raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, plus produce like watermelon, blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, bananas, apple slices, and baby carrots (but no grapes or raisins, which can be toxic). Felines are able to enjoy fish like salmon or mackerel, meats like plain boiled chicken, and even a bit of cheese or egg.  

Keep in mind that only 10 percent of a pet’s daily calories should come from treats. Your veterinarian can confirm which foods are appropriate for your particular pet.   

Venture Out 

If you’ve been stuck at home and can’t take one more day staring at four walls, leash up your dog (or a travel loving cat, if you have one) and hit the road for a day trip. Many beaches, state parks, and local landmarks are still open for sightseeing, so find a spot that’s sure to boost your spirits. 

Be Social 

Socializing is challenging amid COVID-19, but there is a way to be amongst others safely. Get outside with your dog! They are natural ice breakers and you’re sure to meet like-minded people who want to share about their own pets. A game of fetch or frisbee at the local park can also be a fun, socially distant activity to enjoy with friends and family.  

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