A new study led by a Michigan State University researcher shows people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity than those who don’t have dogs. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
According to epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, the study shows that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans to become healthier. Currently fewer than half of the American population meets recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity.
“Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people,” Reeves said. “What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity.”
Obviously if you are taking your dog for daily walks your level of activity increases, but the team found that not only did owning and walking a dog increase the amount of walking a person does but that they were more active overall.
“There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking.”
Reeves also noted that spending time with a dog has been shown to have a positive impact on quality of life.