Pets Can be Good For Your Health!

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I’m a cat person. Thankfully my asthma is not allergy driven (and this article is more driven to asthmatics like me who don’t have animal allergies.) I’ve always had cats since I was little. We had dogs as well but I felt more attached to our kitties. Cats were definitely a source of comfort and calm when my asthma was acting up. There is just something about petting an animal, whether it be a cat or dog etc that can be incredibly therapeutic.

Four weeks ago we welcomed a Yorkie puppy into our family. He was a gift to our son for his 8th birthday. He had been begging for a dog for the longest time. We’ve had dogs in the past but our poodle sadly passed away a year ago. This little guy (who our son named Stewart) has completely stolen our hearts more than we ever thought possible. I’ve always had the idea that only larger dogs are good to get out and exercise with. BOY WAS I WRONG!! My son was very eager and determined to take Stewart to the dog park down the street from our house to start training him. It amazed me how much energy was wrapped up in this tiny 3-pound body. I found myself running around with him and playing fetch with a tiny tennis ball. It didn’t feel like I was exercising but I totally was! The next day we decided to try walking to the park instead of driving. With as much energy as he has I wanted to see if he could make the half mile walk each way on his leash. Not only did he have no problem, he wanted to run the entire way there and back! I walked at my pace and even was able to jog a little bit with him. We all had such a great time and once we got home, both Stewart and I took time to relax and cool down.

Exercising with your pet definitely makes it more fun. Here are some tips to help manage your asthma while exercising with your dog:

Start Slow!

Don’t push it right off the bat. Your pup will go at your pace (hopefully, haha!) and will just be elated to be spending time with you in the great outdoors. Even just a short walk with your dog is enough! Taking your rescue inhaler 15 min before exercise can also help your asthma from acting up. As always, check with your doctor and your asthma action plan for your specific guidelines.

Make it fun!

I’m one of the people who find most workouts boring. I definitely like to have fun while I’m exercising because then it doesn’t feel like I’m actually exercising. If you’re throwing a ball to play fetch with your dog, try marching in place while waiting for him to retrieve it & bring it back to you. If you feel extra adventurous, add in a few lunges, squats or jumping jacks.

Give yourself time to recover

Pay attention to your body. If you feel your lungs start to tighten, stop and rest. Don’t push yourself. You’ll slowly work up your stamina over time. Studies have shown that playing with or petting an animal (more specifically dogs or cats) increases the level of oxytocin in the body (the stress reducing hormone), as well as decrease the production of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Stress can be a major asthma trigger and it is one of my main triggers personally and having animals has definitely helped me keep my stress under control.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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