If you want to lose weight grab the leash and head out your door with your best friend. Walking with your dog is healthy for both you and your dog.
A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that dogs help their owners lose weight. Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor of nursing and the director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction says “our goal was to look for ways to increase the average exercise regimen, and we found being responsible for a pet, such as committing to walk a loaner dog, encouraged people who did not own dogs to walk more often and for longer periods of time.”
Two groups of dog walkers in the study started walking for 10 minutes per day three times a week increasing gradually to 20 minutes per day for 5 days a week. One group followed the dog-walking regimen for 50 weeks while the other followed it for 26 weeks. “Our first study group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds during the one-year program.
That’s a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans”, Johnson said.
The study participants were economically disadvantaged, lead sedentary lifestyles and had multiple chronic illnesses. Before participating in the study each participant was given a health assessment. The walkers “bonded with the animals, improved their flexibility, balance and ability to walk, lost weight and felt better about themselves so it was a very positive thing all around”, Johnson noted. The 26-week walkers did not lose significant weight, so it must be assumed that it takes a year to see the effects of walking, Johnson concluded.
A number of the participants in the study said they walked because they knew it was good for the animals, the benefits to them became secondary.