Researchers reveal that dog walkers live longer
You know that your dog needs a walk each day to stay fit and happy. Have you considered that walking the dog may contribute to your health and happiness as well? After surveying more than 800 dog owners, Australian researchers have the data to prove that yes, walking the dog provides significant health benefits for humans as well as dogs.
The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, reports that walking the dog daily can improve a human's health to a degree comparable with quitting smoking. Previous research on the contribution of dogs to good health has found they provide psychological companionship and support, increasing overall immunity and lowering the risk of heart disease.
This study focused on the canine-human interaction of regular walks and shared physical activity. It found that 46% of households in the survey had a dog and that overall, dog owners walked 18 minutes per week more than non-dog owners. Those who walked their dogs for at least an hour a week were more likely than non-owners to achieve sufficient physical activity for significant health benefits.
More than half of dog owners, however, did not walk their dogs, and were in fact less likely than non-owners to meet the recommended levels of physical activity required for health benefits (150 minutes of moderate activity per week).
The researchers estimate that the potential benefits of dog walking for at least one hour a week for human health could amount to $175 million a year in savings on healthcare and disease prevention.
Read the full study, and all its "innovative interspecies epidemiological approaches to understanding the data" at the Medical Journal of Australia.
If your dog walks aren't as enjoyable as they might be, you might want to focus on loose-leash walking.