Enhance Physical Activity with Four Legs

Enhance Physical Activity with Four Legs

Got a dog? Or know someone close by who does? Great! Then grab the leash and become a regular dog walker.

Results of a recent survey revealed that people who have dogs and walk them are much more likely to meet government-mandated physical-activity guidelines.

Fidos for Fitness
The study data, gathered through a telephone survey completed by nearly 6,000 adults in Michigan, revealed that about 61% of dog owners take their pooches for walks. (C'mon, you other 39%, let's get hoofing!) But here's the good news: The physical benefits of having a dog are extensive. It means you're much more likely than most other folks to get the government recommendation of at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. And not just that, but dog walkers also were more likely than non–dog owners to amp it up beyond a simple walk -- getting some moderately intense exercise into the week as well. (Related: Find out what walking speed is considered "moderate.")

The Doggone Great Benefits of Having Dog
Additional research has suggested that dog ownership can help encourage owners to lead more active lives and that canine companionship offers other helpful health benefits like stress reduction. Dog owners may also have healthier blood pressure. It all boils down to this: Dogs -- like humans -- need regular exercise and physical activity to stay happy, healthy, and sane. And when we exercise them, we exercise ourselves, too. If you're not a dog person, find another good reason to get up off the couch and get your walking shoes on -- whether it's to chase your grandkids, walk to the store every week, or pick up garbage at your favorite park. Find a meaningful reason to walk so you'll do it often.

Want to stop pounds from creeping on? Make this your weekly walking goal.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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