Man's Best Friend Encourages Exercise

Dog owners are more likely to get up, get out, and exercise

(RxWiki News) Dogs are living up to their name as man's 'Best Friend'. Your dog is doing more for you than your real friends: they're actually motivating you to exercise.

A recent study showed that most dog owners are more likely to make time for leisure-time physical activity and going on walks.

In fact, dog owners were 34 percent more likely than people without to get the minimum amount of exercise per week, as recommended by the CDC. Everyone should enjoy at least 2 hours of brisk walking or similar activities weekly.

"Dog owners are more likely to do physical activities - get one."

"This research shows that in addition to the positive mental health benefits one can get from dog ownership, there are physical benefits too. If someone has the time and resources to properly care for a dog, it could be a real help to getting people off the couch." said Dr. Joseph V. Madia, medical editor for dailyRx.

For their study, Matthew J. Reeves, associate professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University, and colleagues used data from 5,902 people. They looked at information about participants' dog ownership, dog walking habits, overall walking activity, and leisure-time physical activity.

They found that over 40 percent of the study's participants owned a dog. Of these people, 61 percent walked their dog for at least 10 minutes at a time.

However, fewer than 30 percent walked their dog for a combined total two and a half hours - the recommended minimum amount of weekly exercise.

In light of their findings, the authors conclude that dog walking should be promoted in order to increase leisure-time physical activity, something that many Americans are sorely lacking.

The study is published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

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Review Date: 
March 15, 2011