Dogs Keep the Whole Family Active

I’ve had my dog for almost three years now and while I’ve always been quite active, I can say, without a doubt, she has taken my workouts in a different — and better — direction.

Before I owned a dog, I would get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but it was always formal exercise either teaching a group exercise class or doing a workout DVD. With a dog though, it’s less “working out” and more “play.” Once we got her as a puppy, my husband and I immediately started taking her on regular morning and afternoon walks, in addition to playing fetch or soccer in the backyard and tug-of-water while watching the latest episode of The Biggest Loser on DVR. In essence, she turned my workouts into life, everyday life.

Turns out that my experience with my pet is pretty common among dog owners. Research published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that children whose families own dogs are more active than those without. The study looked at 2,065 children, ages 9 to 10 years old, and found that children with dogs in their family were more active than children from families that didn’t have a dog as a pet.

The children with dogs spent an average of 325 minutes doing physical activity per day, which was 11 more than those without dogs. “Physical activity” included time spent doing light, moderate, moderate to vigorous, and vigorous activity. Dog owners also spent 11 minutes less in sedentary behavior each day and were found to take 360 more steps than the other children. While the minutes-per-day difference between the families isn’t that big, when you add them over the course of a week, month and year, it’s pretty significant, researchers say.

This study adds to the finding that dogs can make you healthier. A 2007 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting found that dog owners who walk their dogs are more active and have less body fat than non-owners and non-walkers. Dog ownership was also associated with higher levels of self-reported leisure and physical activity in the study.

Do you have a dog? Does your pet keep you active? Try these five tips to workout with your pet!

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