Want to get healthier? Walk your dog
Want to improve your health with more physical activity? Dogs may help us with that more than we know.
A Michigan State University researcher found people who walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks of 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Epidemiologist Matthew Reeves said the study set out to find if dog owners walking their dogs were getting more physical activity or if dog-walking was just a substitute for other forms of activity.
“Obviously, you would expect dog walkers to walk more, but we found people who walked their dog also had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activities,” he said. “There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking.”
Reeves said the results show promoting responsible dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans who are failing to reach recommended levels of physical activity become healthier.
Plus, he said, the human-animal bond that comes with dog ownership has been shown to have a positive impact on quality of life.
There's room for increased participation among dog-walkers, though, the study showed: Only about two-thirds of dog owners reported regularly waking their dogs.
Findings showed middle-aged people have the least time for dog-walking. Dogs most likely to be walked were younger than one year old, and larger breed dogs over 45 pounds got longer walks than smaller dogs.
One note: While dogs are great for making you get out and walk, even when you don’t feel like it, remember there’s a lot to consider before adopting a dog than exercise benefits.
Here are some things to keep in mind before adopting a pet from the Champaign County Humane Society website: