Dr. Randy Martin: Walking is one of the safest and simplest ways to get exercise, which makes it a great way to help get in the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. Regular exercise has endless benefits, such as decreasing your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, while also being good for weight control, your mind and your joints. It seems that having a dog in your life increases your likelihood of going for a walk and getting that exercise you need.
A recent study from Michigan State University showed that dog owners were more likely to get exercise—about 30 to 40 percent more likely to get the 150 minutes recommended. They were more active in general, doing physical activities other than just walking the dog. Another study from Australia concluded that those who got a dog during the course of the study added about 30 minutes more exercise time to their week (versus those who did not own a dog).
And if you think walking with a human friend is just as good, think again. A University of Missouri study revealed that people are more likely to get exercise if they have a dog walking companion versus a human one. After all, dogs tend to keep a steady, faster pace, and they don’t look for excuses not to go—they truly want exercise and the pestering of their owners will not stop until they get it.