A therapy dog is one that is working for an individual with a physical disability, right? No! Therapy dogs, and their humans work as a team to bring emotional support, love, and fun to individuals facing difficult or challenging times. Therapy dog teams volunteer their time to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and to fitness facilities.
You may ask yourself what are the benefits of having a dog by your side while working out. Research has pointed to the health and emotional benefits of owning a dog or being around a dog. An individual that owns a dog is said to have an increased life expectancy and higher quality of life, compared to someone of the same age and health.
Besides the obvious answer of having fun, dogs can provide many benefits which include a calming presence, giving you courage to try something new, they do not judge, and overall encouragement. A therapy dog is there to brighten your day!
Working with therapy dogs in the past and being near therapy dogs, I have seen and felt the emotional benefits of these loving animals. Therapy dogs can increase self-esteem, increase self-confidence, and increase socialization. Spending at least fifteen minutes with an animal releases a hormone, serotonin, or the “feel-good” hormone.
So, dogs and exercise, what is the connection? Dogs can aid in the exercise program, allowing exercise programs to be different and fun during each session. Picture a personal training session or small group training session including playing fetch with a dog or the dog performing push-ups by your side. Both working out and animals can release those “feel-good” hormones, endorphins, and serotonin.
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