Walking your dog is good for you too

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eileen Gizara and Deborah Nadell cuddle with the cats at the Suffolk Humane Society.

Eileen Gizara and Deborah Nadell cuddle with the cats at the Suffolk Humane Society.

By Alyssa Esposito

Staff Writer

Human health isn’t usually the focus of Suffolk Humane Society meetings, but that won’t be the case at the society’s September meeting.

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The Sept. 8 meeting that will take place at the Magnolia Ruritan Club at 6:30 p.m. will include a collaboration with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. This is the first time the society will be coordinating with the partnership.

“Walking your dogs keeps them at a healthier body weight, which puts less stress on their joints as they age,” said Eileen Gizara, executive director for the Suffolk Humane Society.

But there are similar benefits and more to humans, says Deborah Nadell, walking coordinator for the partnership’s Suffolk on the Move.

“It can help prevent Type II diabetes, strengthens the heart, and it helps prevent breast cancer and colon cancer,” Nadell said. It also helps with the health of a person’s heart and lungs, she said.

But the rewards of this program don’t just come from better health for you and your dog. Those who accomplish their goal for the week can be entered into a drawing for a prize.

“I think it’s just a good way for people to come out and be more active and healthier,” Gizara said.

“We want to be as inclusive as possible,” said Nadell.

The meeting is free and open to anyone interested in attending. Members, non-members, people with pets and people without them are all welcome to attend. This particular meeting is not one in which participants will actually go for a walk, but they will be discussing the program and getting people involved.

Participants of the program have the opportunity to measure their exercise in three possible ways: distance, number of steps or time. They will be given pedometers, and they will work to reach whatever goal the coordinators have set for that particular week.

Those who lead hectic lives and are required to remain inactive for the majority of the day will be given tips on how to get their exercise in. Goals are easier in the beginning and progress throughout the program. An example given by Nadell, would be for an owner to walk their dog for two half-hour increments everyday.

The program is funded by a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation. The grant is used to spread awareness on how to live healthier lifestyles as well as creating “movement groups,” Nadell said.

Eventually, the two organizations would like to start group dog-walks in the future.