In a world where many sacrifice physical and mental health for ambition, it can be hard to find a job that actually does your body good. Those who live in big cities know the problems a concrete jungle can conjure: sleepless nights, overstimulated senses, social fatigue. When attention turns back to healing our bodies and minds from the everyday trials we put them through, some look to their work environments as a potential remedy. Here are five of the biggest reasons dog walking can be a healthy occupational option for busy city dwellers.
1. We Get Physical
While many busy professionals try desperately to squeeze 30 minutes of exercise in at the end of a long day, us dog walkers like to come home and collapse happily onto the sofa with a pint of ice cream, having earned our relaxation for the day.
Sedentary work environments and lifestyles drive epidemics of obesity, as well as susceptibility to chronic diseases. It’s been suggested that sitting for prolonged periods on a regular basis can actually shorten the average person’s life expectancy. Working physical activity into your normal day also has a rewarding quality that doesn’t come with a quick gym routine. Getting out of the desk chair and onto the sidewalk with an energetic canine companion may be one of the best things you ever do for your body!
2. We Keep Things in Perspective
Having moderate to intense cardio as a normal part of your workday isn’t just great for managing calorie intake and maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, the health benefits of being a dog walker soar far beyond the physical.
Regular exercise is a pivotal part of stress management and overall wellbeing. Exercise increases levels of norepinephrine in the brain, a neurotransmitter involved in mitigating and controlling the body’s stress response. Regular exercise can also train your body to deal with stress, making it more resilient to emotional trials and tribulations. Exercising during the day rather than closer to bedtime also contributes to easier, more restful sleep. In short, putting your body through physical “stress” on a daily basis reduces mental stress and enables the mind to stay grounded.
3. We Enjoy The Great Outdoors
It’s no secret in 2016 that being outside is important for physical and mental health. Obesity, depression, and nearsightedness are all linked to a life spent predominantly indoors, and many office workers lament their windowless, cramped work environments. What famous naturalists like John Muir asserted for decades is now finally being proven by science; nature is the anecdote to modern life.
While walking dogs in a busy city may not take you to breathtaking vistas or into the depths of wilderness culture, it can still deliver a much-needed breath of fresh air. Chances are your four-legged client would enjoy a walk through a nearby park. Spending your workdays seeking out the greenest parts of your cityscape is a rewarding pursuit guaranteed to obliterate cubicle claustrophobia.
4. We Take In Positive, Rewarding Interactions
Listen to the complaints of those who work in offices or businesses and you will hear a lot of the same, regardless of occupation: humans are frustrating. Too often the stress of interacting with ornery, overly talkative, or condescending people can tarnish the day-to-day experience of a job, even if the work itself is rewarding.
As a dog walker, you deal with quite a different clientele. Sure, you may meet a dog’s family a few times, but you spend the majority of your work time interacting with happy, fluffy balls of love and excitement. Research shows even just petting a dog can lower blood pressure. And caring for furry friends encourages the increasingly popular stress remedy known as mindfulness.
Furthermore, most dogs that get regular walks are of the friendly, exuberant, playful variety; and man are they excited to see your face! Dogs take in zest for life and bounce it back two-fold. Consistently being on the receiving end of this positive (and lets face it, totally adorable) behavior not only brightens your day in the moment, but can also lead to lasting feelings of wellness and appreciation. Chances are you’re one of the best parts of your client’s day. How many tax attorneys can say that?
5. We Control Our Own Schedules
The prevalence of the modern nine to five job squeezes a diverse set of individuals into a one-size-fits all schedule. While some folks find it natural and easy to get up when their alarm goes off, others struggle to mold their body’s internal clock to the demands of the workday. Some even suffer from specific sleep disorders, which make getting up at a certain time every day nearly impossible. These difficulties can contribute to other health problems including anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. Millions of workers force their days to begin when their bodies still demand sleep, propping themselves up with caffeine and creating the real zombie apocalypse of the modern world.
As a dog walker, you have the freedom to construct a schedule that works for your body. In a large city like DC, New York, or Philadelphia, there are pups that need to be walked at all hours of the day! There’s no reason to push yourself to work when you’re not capable or comfortable doing so. Building a schedule that actually works for your body has a multitude of positive effects on your health. Not only are you more likely to get the amount and quality of sleep you want, but you abandon the mental strain of forcing yourself to work when you’re just not able to.