Skip to content

    Healthy Dogs

    Font Size

    Walk Your Dog to Unleash Better Health

    Pet Owners Reap Big Health Benefits From Regular Walks With the Dog, Study Says
    WebMD Pet Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    June 8, 2010 -- Walking your dog not only can help keep you physically fit and at a healthy weight, but also may help ward off high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

    "Dog owners who don't walk their dog are missing a great opportunity to get physical activity and stay healthy," says researcher Cindy Lentino, MS, an exercise scientist at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

    "If you walk your dog just 30 minutes a day, you can meet national recommendations for physical activity," she tells WebMD.

    You don't have to look far to find a canine exercise buddy: About 72 million dogs have a place to call home in the U.S. and many more live in shelters, foster homes, and with rescue groups.

    The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Baltimore.

    Dog Owners Less Stressed

    Lentino says she got the idea for the study, which was part of her master's thesis, after hearing a presentation about the relationship between dog ownership and physical activity at a previous ACSM meeting.

    "I wanted to go beyond that and look at health variables among people who walk their dogs, dog owners who don't walk their dogs, and people without dogs," Lentino says.

    The study involved 916 healthy people, about three-fourths of whom were women, with an average age of 40.

    A total of 380 didn't own dogs, 399 were dog owners who walked their dogs, and 137 were dog owners who did not walk their dogs.

    All the study participants filled out detailed online surveys with more than 35 questions on physical activity and physical and mental health. Responses were matched against goals set by the government's Healthy People 2010 imitative.

    Dog Walkers More Physically Fit

    Compared with participants who regularly walked their four-legged pals, dog owners who didn't walk their pets:

    • Were 58% more likely to be overweight or underweight.
    • Were substantially less likely to meet the ACSM/American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for physical activity, which call for moderately intense cardio exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation.
    • Spent about 30 more minutes sitting around every day, on average.
    • Were more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure.

    Today on WebMD

    bulldog in party hat
    Breeds with longevity
    Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
    The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
    dog with duck in mouth
    Which are considered smartest?
    boxer dog
    What are their health issues?
    Pit bull looking up
    Pets: Is My Dog Normal
    Dog scratching behind ear
    dog catching frisbee
    Dog Breed RMQ
    Lady owner feeding dog
    bulldog in party hat