Dogs really are man’s best friend. Studies show that dog owners walk faster and more often and are more likely to have an active lifestyle all because of their four-legged friend.
Dr. Sandra McCune, an animal behaviorist from Leicestershire, England co-edited the book in which this study was published, called “The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for People and Pets.”
“I’m fascinated by what a great motivator dogs can be,” said McCune.
According to a recent survey of more than 1,011 dog owners done by Mars Petcare, dogs are the reason for 66 percent of walks the owner takes per week. 25 percent of people with children and pets visit parks and other outdoor spaces regularly because of their dog.
“Personally, I have a Labrador,” McCune said. “When it’s dark, when it’s raining, the dog needs a walk, every day.”
In addition to helping with diet plans, dog walking also boosts social and communal ties, McCune claims.
“If people go out with a dog, they’re more likely to have a conversation,” she said.
Because of all the health benefits dogs can provide to their owners, the YMCAs in several U.S. cities will host “The Power of Pets,” a program that includes dog runs and walks, as well as dog yoga and other activities.
“It’s a chance to get the community together,” Katy Leclair, executive director of the Lake View, Illinois YMCA said of the program. “Families with dogs tend to be more active.”
Experts believe that dogs promote exercise and health because they provide companionship, much like a workout partner.
“Dogs can provide that companionship,” said Shirley Archer, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.” Frisbee tossing, ball throwing, agility competitions, dog and human boot camps, are great opportunities to be active,” she said. “But obedience training is a must.”
Laura Cartwright Hardy is a grandmother, full-time graduate student and active dog lover, according to Reuters. The Little Rock, Arkansas resident owns two large German Shepherds and cites them as the reason for her health.
“I’ve had big dogs since I was 20 and that’s definitely been part of the reason I’ve always been fit,” she said. “They certainly keep you honest about walking. Those big brown eyes make it impossible to say no.”