Even if the weather isn’t ideal or they don’t really feel like exercising, dog owners have a commitment to their pets to get moving regularly. And researchers have found people who walk their dogs get more exercise than non-owners, which can lead to more weight loss over time.
Here, a look at how dog ownership can foster healthy habits, the research behind it and why fostering and volunteering can lead to weight loss, too.
Having A Dog Can Trigger Healthy Habits
“One of the biggest correlates of dog-walking is a sense of responsibility or obligation,” says Katie Potter, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the Behavioral Medicine Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose research examines the relationship between dog ownership and motivation to exercise. “This is one of the reasons dog-walking has the potential to be a more sustainable form of physical activity — it taps into something people care about deeply: The health and happiness of their beloved dog.”
A walking habit isn’t just necessary for your dog’s well-being, it’s good for you, too. Taking all of those extra steps and consistently burning extra calories may help dog-walkers lose weight more easily than if they didn’t have a dog.
Research Shows That:
A recent study found people who walk their dogs are more likely to meet their daily physical activity goals. Dog owners walked 160 minutes more per week than non-owners, which contributed to 87% of dog owners meeting their daily physical-activity guidelines, compared to 63% for non-owners. Dog-walkers took 2,000 more steps and got 13 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily than non-owners. This is important because walking at a brisk pace has been shown to help increase longevity and overall health.
The research also showed dog-walkers actively participated in other forms of physical activity without their pets, suggesting their dog-walking responsibilities didn’t significantly displace other physical activity from their schedules.
Other research has shown older people who walk their dogs walk at a moderate pace for 22 minutes longer on a daily basis than non-owners, and they log 2,760 additional steps in the process. The extra movement helps older dog owners meet their physical-activity goals more often than non-owners (87% versus 47%).
So? Did we convince you? Are you going to adopt/buy a dog?