A brand-new study is showing that for most dog owners, the canine-human relationship comes with more than just friendship: it can provide measurable health benefits.
New research is showing dog owners are four times more likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines than non-dog owners. And while that may make sense, the research uncovered a couple of interesting twists.
Published in April in Scientific Reports, the study looked at the exercise habits of about 700 participants in 385 British households. Participants answered questionnaires about activity levels and agreed to wear activity monitors for the trial.
Dog owners appeared to spend about 300-minutes walking per week, out-walking their non-dog owning counterparts substantially by about a 200-minute margin. Activity guidelines are 150-minutes per week. Hitting that target is associated with a lower risk for heart disease and other chronic illness.
Interestingly, they also found dog walkers were more likely to engage in non-dog walking-related activities like jogging, cycling, and working out at the gym than their non-dog owning counterparts. This seems to indicate that dog owners may be more likely to live an active life in general than those who don’t own dogs. Also, interestingly, the study found that some dog owners, mainly young women, did not walk their dogs at all. So, owning a dog does not guarantee you’ll get exercise!
Are dogs a living, shedding, barking Fitbit? Although they might provide some incentive to get out for a walk and lead an active life, having a dog requires a little bit more work. So, if you need a reason to get active, a dog should not be your go-to if you don’t have the patience and commitment.
There are plenty of incentives you can use to increase activity, you just have to find the one that works for you. If taking your dog for a walk gets you out of the house, then great! But you can get the same benefits from walking throughout the neighborhood, going for nature walks, running errands on foot, or literally doing anything else active!
So, if you don’t have a dog, don’t worry; you’re not destined to a life of inactivity. You have the power, not Fido!