A Beneficial Relationship
Both dogs and humans need to walk, and it’s beneficial for canines and their companions to accompany each other on strolls around the block. Aside from offering constant love and affection, dogs are great motivators – for exercise, that is. Studies around the world show dog owners are more likely to go on walks and are generally get more exercise than non-dog owners. If you’re looking for a little help with your weight-loss goals, consider getting a pup. You’ll shed some pounds and adopt a new best friend while you’re at it. Here’s what the studies say about the benefits of owning a dog.
Dog Owners Get More Exercise in General
In a study by Michigan State University, 60% of dog owners took their pups for regular walks, performing moderate or vigorous exercise according to federal criteria. Half of the dog owners in that same group fit 30 minutes of exercise a day 5 days a week into their schedules. That’s a good amount of walking for fur babies and their parents! Only a third of participants without dogs performed the same amount of exercise.
But what about non-dog walking activities? It turns out dog owners still get the most exercise, with an average of 30 more minutes a week of exercise compared to individuals without dogs. They engaged in other forms of moderate and vigorous physical activities like working in the garden or playing sports.
So, dog owners are more physically active even outside of their dog-walking exercise, participating in a variety of sweat-inducing activities. But even if you’re not innately a calorie- busting kind of person, getting a dog helps.
Getting a Dog Inspires Exercise
The previous studies prove healthy, active people are more likely to own a dog and generally get more exercise than owners without any four-legged friends. But can getting a dog make you become more active? According to a 2008 study in Western Australia, the answer is yes. 773 non-dog owners were studied by researchers for over a year. Of that group, 92 people adopted a dog and subsequently increased walking times by 30 minutes a week compared to non-dog owners in the same study.
Interestingly enough, these new dog owners got the least amount of exercise before adopting their pets compared to other group members. Researchers concluded members picked up a pup to inspire more exercise, hinting at possible biases. Regardless of initial intentions, dog owners got more exercise with the help of their new furry friends.
They’re More Effective Walking Buddies for the Elderly
It turns out dogs are also great motivators for the elderly, and in a 2010 study from the University of Missouri, research showed dogs inspire more exercise than humans. 54 individuals at an assisted living home chose either a dog or human as a walking companion. Those who chose dogs proved to be more active, improving walking speeds by 28%. Human walkers only improve elderly walking speeds by 4%.
Researchers found human companions demotivated walking buddies by complaining about the heat and other factors. To the contrary, dogs inspired individuals to keep going; the idea being you actually help yourself by helping someone else (or a loving animal).
Dogs are silent and devoted companions, encouraging owners and caretakers to take good care of their mental and physical well-being. By caring for and walking your dog, you’ll incorporate a bit more exercise into daily routines by going for walks, jogs, and strolls around the neighborhood with your new best friend.