Every day’s a good day for a walk with Chance

Zuhlsdorf walks dog daily for love of nature

Laurie Zuhlsdorf of Sleepy Eye walks her dog “Chance” along State Highway 4 in Sleepy Eye.

If you’ve ever driven through Sleepy Eye on State Highway 4 or about a mile south of town in the middle of the morning or afternoon over the past few decades, you’ve probably seen a woman walking a German Shepherd dog at a pretty rapid pace.

The lady is Laurie Zuhlsdorf of Sleepy Eye. She’s been walking her dog just about every day since her sophomore year of high school. Back in high school when she played basketball, she used to run as far as five miles at a time.

“I’ve been outside running since I was eight years old,” Zuhlsdorf said. “Back then, I would run to my grandmother’s house. I just like to be outside. I like nature and the great outdoors.”

Zuhlsdorf is now walking with “Chance,” her third german shepherd.

She said most of the time, motorists wave to her. Sometimes, they stop and talk to her, from their yards or on their walks.

Chance checks out a snowpile during a recent daily walk with his owner, Laurie Zuhlsdorf.

Her dogs have been attacked by other dogs a few times, just three that she can remember.

“Once, a pit bull was biting my dog’s neck so hard, it wouldn’t let go until the pit bull’s owner came up and choked the pit bull before it let go,” Zuhlsdorf said.

About the only times she missed her daily dog walks were during blizzards.

“The walks allow me to see people I wouldn’t otherwise usually see,” Zuhlsdorf said.

“I’ve walked in every kind of weather. I’ve been hailed on, walked in snowstorms, lightning, everything,” she said. “I guess it all paid off. It’s good for my health. My two boys work out at the gym.”

Taking a 30-minute walk each day could be considered like the proverbial apple. It can keep the doctor away by helping you lose weight, de-stress, lower blood pressure and cut your risk of many chronic diseases.

Research shows regular walking modifies your nervous system to the point of lessening anger and hostility. Walking with others or interacting with people along the way helps you feel connected and boosts mood, according to Melinda B. Jampolis, MD, author of “The Doctor on Demand Diet.”

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that dogs are great walking motivators because they provide strong motivation to maintain a program, are good walking companions and provide good social support when exercising.

Medical research shows that exercise health benefits include a 75 percent reduced risk of breast caner, 49 percent heart disease decrease, 35 percent lower diabetes risk and 22 percent decrease in colon cancer risk.

In addition, walking outside in natural sunlight can help you fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the winter blues, Jampolis said.

Taking a walk can also spark creativity, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Plus regular walking can help improve your body’s response to insulin and help reduce belly fat and positively alter body composition and is less likely to cause injuries than other forms of exercise.

According to the World Health Organization, adequate exercise to promote good health is:

• 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily activity for children age 5 to 17.

• 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week for adults 18 to 65 plus strengthening exercises two days a week.

• 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week, with modifications as needed in seniors more than 65 years old, plus flexibility and balance exercises.

Research showed that seven of every 10 dog owners receives 150 minutes of weekly physical exercise, compared with just four of every 10 non-owners.

Daily dog walking helps you bond with your dog, improves the dog’s health and is a way to train your dog. It’s recommended to vary the places you take your pet as much as possible to make it more fun for both of you.

The Brown County Humane Society, 1301 S. Valley St., New Ulm, has a number of volunteering needs including walking dogs, feeding animals, cleaning dog and cat cages, and cat roaming rooms, doing laundry and facility maintenance like shoveling snow and lawn mowing.

For more information, visit http://bchsnu.com/get-involved/, email bchnsu@hotmail.com or call 507-359-2312.

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