- They offer an easy way to get more exercise
e.g. llama walks, volunteering to help with dog walking for someone who really needs your help e.g. an elderly neighbour, a friend who's been ill or had surgery). Some animals - dogs, for instance, - HAVE to be walked, so your excuses for not doing any walking become null & void!
- They can provide terrific motivation if you really care about them.
Sally gave up biscuits & crisps to help protect rainforests where orangutans live, by reducing demand for palm oil, as forests are being cut right back to provide the oil needed to go in many biscuits & crisps. She replaced the biscuits & crisps with apples. She lost 5 pounds in two weeks and doesn't plan to return to biscuits & crisps - thoughts of the Orangutans she saw on Orangutan Diaryon the TV make this much easier to do.
- Stroking a pet or someone elses can ease stress levels.
How many of us reach out for comfort foods when we're feeling stressed? Stroking the cat you see siting on the wall can help reduce stress levels, as can watching birds in your garden on in the park. If your overeating is caused by stress, then the right pet - or access to a pet e.g. a neighbours - could help you manage it in another way.
- They can give more meaning & purpose to life.
Do you eat because you're bored at work? Or because you get home and slump in front of the telly, a packet of goodies at your side in the evening? Put more meaning & purpose into your life and day - such as volunteering to help a local animal charity - and switch your focus to what really matters to you and your focus will shift away from food. Get involved in the natural world and animal kingdom in your local community at the weekend for a change. You'll meet new people and make like-minded friends.
- They can give you a goal to succeed in which will boost your confidence and take your mind off food.
Succeed in one thing - such as an initial weightloss to be able to learn how to ride a horse - and your self-belief that you can succeed long term in losing weight will rocket. You can use charity challenges as a way to start exercising in preparation. You don't need to look at the marathon - there are plenty of shorter events to get stuck into. Do a sponsored walk or slim for your favourite animal to raise money for him or her.
- Animals offer great ways to explore new countryside
e.g. strolling around nature reserves, volunteering to help with coppice management or hedgelaying, farm holidays and the like - so that you can get to enjoy really beautiful scenery while you're exercising. Much nicer than going to a gym. Usually less costly too. And this scenery is everywhere so if you go on holiday or to visit a friend, you can walk together, talking and chatting and enjoying the natural world around you. The RSPB offers an annual membership which gives you free access to their nature reserves; and the National Trust has over 300 properties homes & gardens to explore.
Always check with your GP before starting any new exercise programme.