Grab a Leash, Walk Your Dog . . .and Exercise Your Hippocampus

Bella on leash.jpg

I love going on long walks with my humans. With the weather getting better, they’ve been taking me on afternoon strolls around the neighborhood (usually to the local coffee shop so that Mom can fuel her caffeine habit). Other times they load me up into the Subaru and we drive to nearby Mt. Hood or the Oregon Coast for a day of outdoor adventure.

Let’s face it: Since dogs and humans started hanging out together more than 12,000 years ago, we’ve both become more sedentary. Unfortunately, dogs weren’t bred to spend 18 hours a day napping, and humans weren’t designed to sit on their bums for hours at a time.

According to Dr. James Levin of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, today’s humans suffer from “sitting disease” and burn anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 fewer calories per day than they did just 30 years ago. Well, guess what? If you are sitting, then your pets are probably sitting, too. No wonder 44% of dogs in the U.S. are either overweight or obese!

Okay, okay. I’ll admit there are some days when all I want to do is indulge my inner canine couch potato (even though, technically, I’m not allowed on the couch. Notice the word “technically.”) Still, nothing rouses me from a deep slumber like someone dangling a leash in front of my nose and saying, “Let’s go for a walk.” Suddenly, it’s off to the races.

Luckily, walking is one of the easiest ways for dogs and humans to get into shape. According to a new study, it might improve memory, too. That’s because regular walking can expand your hippocampus. Your hippo what?! Your hippocampus…the part of the brain that forms memories and helps you remember where you hung up the dog leash and stashed the poop bags.

So why aren’t you outside walking?

By Bella the Boxer, adapted from her book Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash Your Potential and Create Success. Visit