Why Owning a Dog Has MAJOR Health Benefits

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021

Having a dog around the house can give you more than just a boost in happiness.

Maria-Sbytova/ShutterstockWant to exercise, but just can’t bring yourself to get to the gym? We’ve got great news for you (and your waistline). Turns out, man’s best friend could be man’s best weight loss plan, too!

Here’s the scoop on why it’s so great to be a dog owner. Unconditional love aside, our four-legged friends can do way more than cheer us up. When push comes to shove, they also get us up and moving. According to a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health, dog owners walk 22 minutes more per day than people who don’t own a dog. And by the way, all that walking totally counts as exercise.

Don’t believe us? Hear it straight from the expert’s mouth. The UK study recruited men and women in their 60s and older who were dog owners and non-dog owners, and then tracked their activity for speed and distance. The results even surprised the researchers.

“Not only did we see an increase in exercise, but also the exercise was at a moderate pace,” said Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln, the study’s author.

The dog owners kept up an average pace of three miles per hour while walking, which is a level of “moderate intensity,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Loads of studies have shown that walking—like running!—can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, among other things. Plus, more walking equals more health benefits, the American Heart Association says.

In other words, dog owners are adding up some major perks from their extra cardio—and now you can, too. Now that your dog is your favorite person ever, try these secrets to becoming every dog’s favorite human.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest