The response of nearly 6,000 participants to the 2005 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey showed that of the 41 percent who were dog owners, 61 percent of them said they walked their dogs at least 10 minutes at a time. Also, 27 percent of those surveyed said they walked their dogs at least 150 minutes a week.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is obvious; of course you are getting exercise if you are walking your dog.
However, it’s not just that you are walking your dog. Evidence shows that people move more above and beyond the task of taking their pooch for a walk.
“Dogs can be a great motivator for physical activity. People who walk their dogs, walk more. They walk about an hour longer each week,” said study author Mathew Reeves, a veterinarian and associate professor of epidemiology at the Michigan State University in East Lansing.
The research found that dog owners are about 34 percent more likely to get the recommended minimum amount of exercise each week.
This isn’t a blanket free pass for all dog owners. There’s an obesity problem with our pets as well. In another study, veterinarians said that about 45 percent of the dogs they have treated were obese. Besides overfeeding, some of the problem may reside in the fact that nearly 40 percent of dog owners say they don’t even walk their dogs.
“When you look at dog walkers, only 27 percent get the 150 minutes of activity benchmarks, so dog walkers could probably be walking more often and can walk longer,” said Reeves. “And, for the almost 40 percent of dog owners who didn’t walk at all, they really should be walking their dogs. Every dog should have the opportunity to get out and walk.”
I can’t tell you why exactly, but I found this intriguing: Poor dog owners, specifically those making less than $20,000 a year, spent the most time walking their dogs.