Dog owners tend to be fitter than people who do not have a pet because of the amount of walking they do with their animal, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
Researcher Dr Matthew Reeves, from Michigan State University, believes promoting dog ownership may help people to lead healthier lifestyles. ‘There is no magic bullet in getting people to reach those benchmarks,’ he said. ‘But owning and walking a dog has a measurable impact.
‘Walking is the simplest and most accessible form of physical activity available to people. So health campaigns promoting ownership of a dog and dog walking may be a logical way to increase physical activity.’
It is recommended that every week everyone should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity such as walking, jogging, gardening or dancing.
The researchers found that up to two-thirds of dog owners walk their dogs regularly and these people end up exercising for about an hour longer each week than those who own dogs but do not walk them.
In addition, the study found that those with larger dogs engage in more walking than those who own small breeds.