We’ve all been there: the days when the allure of
the Netflix binge is too strong to resist; when a cosy day wrapped in a duvet
wins out over venturing outside.
While the draw of staying inside can sometimes be
overwhelming, it’s vital to remember just how important it is to get up off the
sofa and exercise. It is recommended that young people aged five to 18 should
get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day, while
adults should aim for 150 minutes across a week.
This is one of the messages that will be spread
to primary school pupils and their families when the Smarter Travel Roadshow –
which promotes eco-friendly and healthy ways of getting to school – takes place
across Aberdeenshire during the next few weeks.
While this may seem like a daunting target to
meet, there are simple changes to your lifestyle that can help you achieve your
goals… some of which come with four legs and a wagging tail.
Graeme Innes, centre manager at the Scottish
SPCA’s Aberdeenshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, will be attending a
number of the Smarter Travel Roadshow events to tell attendees just how man’s
best friend can help them meet their exercise needs.
He said: “Owning a dog keeps you active.
Different dogs require different amounts of exercise, but they’ll all get you
up out of your chair and get you outdoors.
“I’ve got a springer spaniel, and he’s constantly
on the go. I used to be in the army and played a lot of sport, but as I’ve got
a bit older my knees and ankles won’t let me play football and rugby as much as
I’d like. So most of my fitness and exercise is now with the dog, and on my
days off we’ll head away into the hills for a long walk.”
Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s
Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “Walking your four
legged friend is not only great exercise but could be a really innovative way
of making the school run that bit more fun. So why not give the car a rest and
instead take your dog out for a well-deserved walk when going to and from
“Over the next few weeks the Smarter Travel
Roadshows will give parents and young people plenty of hints and tips on using
greener travel methods when completing the school run. Look out for a Smarter
Travel Roadshow at a school near you.”
Losing those extra inches from the waistband
isn’t the be-all and end-all of dog ownership, though. As technology becomes
more ingrained in our society, the need to get outside is more pressing than
ever – in 2015 it was estimated that young people spend an average 144 minutes
a day in front of a screen, a number which continues to rise. By encouraging
children to get outside – and to spend time together with friends or as a
family – it can improve their general wellbeing and help to reduce stress.
Graeme said: “My youngest son is 14 and it can be
difficult to drag him away from his computer. But every day, when he gets home
from school, he takes the dog out for a walk – and for 40 minutes or so he’s
getting fresh air and exercise outside. Now more than ever, when everything is
becoming computerised, it’s important to introduce children to the great
outdoors, and having a dog is a fantastic way to do that and to spend time
together outside as a family.”
So what are the next steps? How do you find a new
four-legged companion to join your family?
Graeme explained: “If you adopt a dog from the
Scottish SPCA, you’re giving that animal a vital second chance.
“All the dogs and animals in our care end up here
for a reason. Some of them are mistreated and abused, but there is a massive
spectrum of reasons why we take on these animals: relationships break down,
people move into rented accommodation where landlords do not allow pets, owners
pass away or go into hospital.
“No matter their background, it’s important that
these dogs – and other animals – get another chance. Our staff work very hard
to get to know each animal that comes in, building a bond with them during
their rehabilitation, and so they are on hand to help you choose the perfect
pet to take home.
“Every dog has a full health check from a vet
before leaving with their new family, and is vaccinated, deflead and dewormed,
and microchipped. We also offer four weeks’ free pet insurance.”
The Smarter Travel Roadshow will visit five
Aberdeenshire primary schools in Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Ellon and
Portlethen in November to tell pupils and their families about simple changes
they can make to their school run to help the environment and increase their
weekly healthy activity. Graeme Innes will visit a number of the roadshows with
some of the Scottish SPCA’s four-legged friends in tow, joining the likes of
ARR Craib, Nestrans, Stagecoach and Police Scotland.
For more information, follow the Smarter Travel
Roadshow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TSaberdeenshire
or on Twitter @TSaberdeenshire