If you’re lucky enough to own a dog, you’re already reaping loads of benefits: you have a bloody dog, for one. And (almost) everything about that is good: the loyalty, the fun, the companionship, the cuddles.
And, it turns out, the exercise.
According to new research in BMC Public Health, dog walkers walk around 22 minutes further every day than people without – something that could have a significant impact on their health and longevity.
"Not only did we see an increase in exercise, but also the exercise was at a moderate pace," study author Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln said.
And this “moderate exercise” is the key to the health benefits dog owners enjoy. Previous studies have shown moderate intensity exercise – which includes cycling and fast walking – can be just as good for you as going for a run. It lowers high blood pressure, high cholesterol, reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and more, and essentially consists of any kind of movement that causes you to sweat or experience a slightly increased heart rate. We’re meant to get around 150 minutes of it a week – something those of us without dogs are less likely to reach, apparently
Those involved with the study were British men and women aged 60 and over, and had their speed and distance measured over several weeks by a heart rate monitor.
"People wore it 24 hours a day, which gave us a real insight into the total amount of activity," said Mills. He explained that dog owners were more likely to “walk briskly” and raise their heart rates – sometimes reaching about three miles an hour.