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The Best Walking Partner

The Best Walking Partner

Having trouble finding time for your daily 30-minute walk? Then make a date with this old pal: your dog.

Studies have shown that dog ownership has some decided health benefits, not the least of which is that a furry friend helps get people into better shape—even more so than a human walking partner!

See spot walk
Researchers at the University of Missouri wanted to see just how helpful it was to walk with a dog. So they assigned seniors to one of three walking programs: walking with a dog, walking with a friend, or walking alone. And they found that the people who hoofed it with a canine companion increased their walking speeds by an impressive 28 percent. People strolling alone or with a human companion only upped their speeds by about 5 percent.

The canine effect
Why did the dog walkers have so much more spring in their steps? The researchers posit that dog walking improved the seniors' balance and confidence, making them want to walk even more. Add to this the fact that pet owners tend to handle stress better, be more emotionally stable and make fewer trips to the doctor than pet-free people, and you've got a lot of reasons to thank your pooch for his presence. 

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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