Enjoying a workout with animals is a growing trend that has more benefits than you may think. And it now goes far beyond taking the dog for a walk, with sessions such as puppy yoga meaning even non-pet owners can enjoy the benefits of exercising with animals.
Puppy yoga sessions can take place indoors or outdoors, as long as there’s an enclosed space big enough for a dozen or so participants and approximately the same number of puppies. As the yoga session commences and participants reach their different poses, the puppies roam around – sometimes even licking or sitting on participants too! Even if the puppies prevent participants from reaching all the yoga poses – it’s all considered part of the fun. What’s more, the combination of light exercise, focused breathing and interaction with the puppies brings about a genuine feel-good factor.
Many see puppy yoga as being an extension of pet therapy, of which the benefits have long been known. This is based on the idea that interactions between humans and animals can help people get through health problems. In particular, pet therapy has been shown to lower blood pressure and release endorphins, which helps reduce pain and alleviate stress.
Some of us struggle to find the motivation to get out there and exercise, particularly when we work hard or simply feel tired. For animal lovers, exercising with animals can be the extra incentive they need to get active.
Pet therapy has proven positive effects on those struggling with their mental health, making people feel more positive and less isolated – particularly if they live alone. Making friends at exercise classes isn’t always easy – but having animals at a workout session helps break the ice and give participants something new to smile about.
The combination of exercising and having positive interactions with animals is powerful, and this has even been proven to lower blood pressure. Other studies also show that exercising with animals helps improve focus and mental clarity. Lowering stress levels through these positive interactions lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn helps people lose weight when they’re also eating healthily.
The benefits of exercising with animals is very much a two-way street. Animals also benefit from mental stimulation and positive interactions with humans. As long as sessions for exercising with animals are organised ethically, both animals and humans really do gain something. At The Runnymede, we’re working with litters of local puppies who are being looked after ethically, and who are at just the right stage of their development to benefit from puppy yoga. Among other things, this means they have been vaccinated and are not far away from going to their forever homes.