You may have adopted your pooch for its unconditional love, adorable tail wag or constant companionship, but now there's another reason to bring a dog into your life: you get more exercise. News flash: dog owners get 22 additional minutes a day of walking compared to non-dog owners (see, they really do keep you on your toes!). You surely don't need another reason to get a dog, but we're going to put this out there anyway. Read on to learn more about how dogs get us moving, yet another way they bring joy to our lives.
Dog Owners Move More
It's all spelled out here, in a study from the journal BMC Public Health, which compared the activity level of dog owners to non-dog owners. Everyone in the study was in their 60s and older. This wasn't just a "count your steps" style of test. Participants wore monitors all day, every day, providing researchers with nitty gritty insights into their every movement.
The study showed that dog walkers move at a "moderate pace." This means brisk walks, an increased heart rate and overall more intense movement throughout your day. This puts dog owners almost in the same movement range as certified health nuts! They also have less "sitting events", which means they lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Getting outdoors, romping on the floor and chasing after Fido does you a world of good. Many argue that walking at a fast pace is just as good for your bod as jogging. You'll experience lower cholesterol, reduced risks associated with high blood pressure, fewer incidents of Type 2 Diabetes and more.
The No-Excuse Way to Exercise
To give you a better idea of how much more dog owners move, one doctor noted that national guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Yet, only 50% of us are actually making this happen. Could bringing a dog into your home eliminate your excuses? By the way, that's not the only study to support the healthy lifestyle of dog ownership.
A larger study of more than three million participants links dog ownership to a longer life, especially for those who live alone. This study looked at folks ages 40 to 80, and tracked cardiovascular disease, overall health and longevity. Here's what's fascinating: people who lived alone, with a pooch, reduced their risk of death by 33%. This is compared to those who live alone, without a dog. Big points for dogs everywhere!
Dogs Make Us Feel GoodThese studies quantify what so many of us have been feeling and intuitively know. Without a doubt, dogs change our lives for the better (they just make us feel good!) but there are numerous other links to the myriad ways that dogs can enhance our health.
- Dogs offer built-in social support. They force you to get out of the house, to get active and move (even in less than desirable weather).
- There is some evidence that growing up with a dog can lower your risk to having allergies throughout your life.
- Dogs can even help manage your mood levels and lower your risk of depression!
- Having a dog may even lead to making more friends throughout your lifetime.