Dogs are some of the best, free personal trainers, a study from the University of Liverpool has found. The research suggests that canine companions help keep their owners active.
The study found that UK adults who own dogs are four times more likely to get the recommended amount of weekly exercise compared to those who didn’t own dogs.
Dog owners said their dogs gave them a reason to get outdoors each day, whether playing fetch in the yard or going on a daily walk.
Researchers surveyed 386 families in a West Cheshire community, and found that 80% of those who owned dogs were getting in at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. Children in families with dogs were also getting more exercise than children who didn’t live with dogs.
According to the research, 5.3% of participants jogged with their dogs, while 2.1% went cycling with their canine companions. In total, people spent 248 minutes per week doing physical activities with their four-legged friends.
Carrie Wesgrath, who led the study, said the results show that dog walking is viewed as an additional activity. Owners didn’t do any less of other activities, such as running or going to the gym.
The study found that dogs can motivate UK owners to be more active, but these effects weren’t the same in other countries. In the U.S., for example, only 27% of down owners regularly walked their dogs for at least 150 minutes each week.
Regardless of your location, the study’s results suggest that owning a dog may encourage you to be more active. If you can’t afford to hire a personal trainer in Toronto, adopting a dog and taking it on daily walks may help you get the exercise you need each week.
The UK study’s results also show that dog owners lead different lifestyles compared to non-dog owners. Fitness tracker data shows that dog owners take a median of 8,038 steps per day, while those who didn’t own dogs took a median of 6,081 steps per day. Dog owners were 14 times more likely to walk for recreational purposes compared to those who didn’t own dogs. They also performed about 13 extra minutes of moderate exercise per day compared to non-dog owners.
The data doesn’t prove that owning a dog is the reason why dog owners are more active. Statistically speaking, dog owners were more likely to be younger, have higher income, and have higher self-rated health.