This is a Guest Post from Kimberly Reynolds: Kimberly is an online marketer in Dallas, Texas. She has a passion for learning new things and is currently working on mastering the piano. On a typical day after work, you may find her walking her dogs, Bella and Doug, reading, writing, and discussing the latest viral video on YouTube. She loves coconut bread pudding, hummus, music, and photography. Connect with her on Twitter @KimberlyDerish.
According to The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, global health club memberships exceeded 120 million in 2010. The Humane Society estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of which approximately 3-4 million are euthanized.
As a dog owner for 10 years, and a gym member for some time, I have insight on both the love of dogs and exercising at the gym. While getting a gym membership can be a worthwhile and satisfying experience, I believe getting a dog is a better alternative.
1) Unconditional Love
A dog displays its unconditional love when you get home from a long day at work and he wags his tail, licks your face, and jumps all over you. On the other hand, when you walk into the gym, you don’t receive the same feeling of love and appreciation. Instead, you get greeted by someone who probably doesn’t know your name.
2) Free Exercise
Gym memberships can cost you anywhere from $30 to $70 a month. Jogging or walking outside with your dog is free, and he/she will appreciate being outside more than you know. Plus, it’s beneficial to you to get outside and get some Vitamin D from the sun.
3) Great Way To Meet People
Yes, I know you can meet people at the gym too, but you probably won’t make the greatest first impression. You’ll most likely be sweaty and won’t smell your best. However, having a dog is the perfect excuse to go to a dog park! Dogs are great conversation starters. Have you noticed that you find it easier to talk when you or your friend is engaging a pet? Scientists call this “social lubricant.” We have a greater sense of ease and are more sociable around others when animals are present.
4) No Judgments
Let’s face it, when you go to the gym you are constantly being judged – or you’re judging someone else. Our relationships with our dogs are probably the most honest and pure relationships we have. Think about it – there is never a reason to lie to your dog, and you can completely be yourself around them. Dogs don’t judge you on whether or not you’re wearing makeup or if you’re fat or thin. They love you regardless of what your car looks like … as long as they can stick their heads out the window.
5) Mental Health Benefits are Greater
The physical benefits of a gym membership are fairly obvious. But, the mental benefits of having a dog are not as apparent. For example, the bond with a dog helps you maintain a sense of purpose in life through loving and caring for them. Owning a dog forces you to get out into the world and encourages exercise. This can help anyone fight depression and loneliness. Other mental health benefits include: reduced anxiety, reduced stress, and in some cases, even reduced perception of pain.
6) Dogs are Emotionally There for You
Dogs can be a great comfort in times of conflict or grief, since they offer unconditional affection. They often seem to know when we are sad, and they are always attentive, nonjudgmental listeners. If you have a problem or issue you can talk out loud to your dog. Your dog will never interrupt you or get tired of your voice. However, dogs won’t double as your shrink. If you are suffering from persistent issues with depression, anxiety, or any other mood disorder, it is important to speak to a mental health professional.
7) Takes the Focus Off You
At the gym, the focus is mainly on you and the pressures and stresses of your daily life. Having a dog moves the focus away from one’s self and on to that of a dependent other, your dog. You can then focus more on satisfying the needs of your dog, which is why they make such good companions. Running with my dog takes some of my focus off of how hard it is to run up this hill when I see my dog’s tongue hanging out, almost smiling, because he’s happy to simply be running outside.
You may feel great after leaving the gym, but think about how much better you’ll feel when you come home to a dog that can’t control its happiness when it sees you! Dogs love you for who you are, and we love them back because of it.