Exercise keeps the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and blood stream) active and can have amazing health benefits! Activity stimulates chemicals in the body that can actually activate a feeling of “happiness” and even reward. This rewarding feeling can create a strong bond between us and our furry companions. Engaging your pet in activity also stimulates the brain and can actually help with preventing inappropriate behaviors from our pets, whether that’s destroying items by chewing or causing irritation from excessive barking/meowing. Exercise prevents that “extra energy” that encourages destructive or “thoughtless” behaviors.
Physically the joints, bones and soft tissue of the body also benefits from staying active and can help decrease pain associated with inflammation in the body (like that of arthritis). Inactivity can have significant negative impacts on the muscles and strength of even the bones in the body that could actually lead to injury.
Some great activities/exercises to think about incorporating at home with your feline pets include offering a catnip filled stuffed toy to toss around or place on the end of a string for them to stalk/chase after. Offering a food dispensing ball that they can roll and chase with the promise of food as a reward in the ball is active enough. Laser pointers (pointed only to the wall or floors) can entice some cats to trigger their hunting instincts and can encourage rapid bursts of activity.
Some great activities/exercises for your canine companions include going for walks (weather permitting, especially in Michigan), offering food puzzles at meal times instead of just offering a bowl of food, playing tug of war or catch with a favorite toy and even playing hide and seek with your canine pal can create great bonding moments and stimulate a great deal of “fun” in their lives and yours!
So even though it is “bone chillingly” cold outside, try to find fun ways to bond with your pets by actively engaging them in movement and play so that both you and your pets may enjoy a healthier and happier life together!