How your dog or cat can help you stick to New Year’s resolutions

Here's what Dunwoody residents chose as the best place to take their dog in the DeKalb County city.

Fitness is a common New Year’s resolution, but apparently having a four-legged pal to join you can help you be more likely to achieve that goal.

Experts with the national animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society say that a dog can be a great companion on your run or walk. Additionally, having a pet is good for mental health, WABC-TV reported.

“We can go out and walk with our pets — run if you’re runners or take them hiking — and even cats can enjoying walking on a harness and be present in the moment and pet your dog or cat and feel that release of the pressure on our lives these days,” Temma Martin of Best Friends Animal Society said according to the news outlet.

A 2017 study has also supported the notion that dog owners who walk their pets outdoors are more likely to maintain regular exercise habits, according to Reuters Health.

People who regularly walk with their dogs were found to be more active on days with harsh weather conditions. That’s when they had 20% higher activity levels as opposed to people who didn’t have dogs. Dog owners were also more active for 30 minutes a day.

“It’s no surprise that dog walkers are more active, but we were surprised by how big the difference is,” study author Andy Jones of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K. told the news website. “If we could achieve that level of activity with everybody, it would go a long way in dealing with problems of obesity and aging.”

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, animal rescues have also looked to people to foster animals to decrease crowded shelters.

“In times like these, shelters are going to be absolutely swamped with a tremendous number of pets,” Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the nonprofit American Humane, told NBC’s “Today” last spring.

Animal advocates with Best Friends Animal Society also said that pets are a good way to socialize amid the isolation felt during the pandemic, WABC-TV reported. However, mask-wearing and social distancing should be practiced.