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The number one new year’s resolution to make with your dog: regular walks!

If you search the internet for funny dog photos, you’ll notice that many of these are taken by owners after they’ve told their pooches they’re going for a walk. Every dog owner has experienced the explosion of excitement that comes from a dog when they think they’re about to head outdoors for some exercise. Unfortunately this enthusiasm isn’t shared by humans, with deadlines and tiredness often making us choose the couch over pounding the pavement.

With 2017 just getting started, there’s still time to change this habit and make walking your dog a New Year’s Resolution you keep. And it’s one that will benefit you both.

The University of Western Australia revealed in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia that dogs make the perfect exercise companions as they motivate you to return to the activity day after day, provide good company when you’re exercising and also provide you with the social support needed to keep going when you’d rather give up. However, research by Diabetes Australia Walk to Work Day reveals that over half of all dog owners don’t walk their dogs.

This statistic is surprising, when you consider benefits that your dog gets from walking – it provides exercise, mental stimulation and burns off excess energy, while also providing young or special needs dogs with controlled socialisation experience with other dogs and humans. Many pet owners are happy to fork out for expensive and healthy pet foods as well as preventative care and medication – but free exercise is one area that’s frequently overlooked.

So if you can’t be convinced to walk your dog just for their benefit, you might want to consider what benefits you’ll enjoy from the physical activity. Regular, moderate exercise in humans is linked to a decreased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer while helping you work off those extra pounds.

In fact, if your family has a dog, dog walking also provides an excellent opportunity to instil regular exercise as a habit in your children from a young age – a habit they will likely keep for some time to come!