Canine Companions Help Encourage Healthier, More Active Lifestyles
If you own a dog, chances are you see him or her as much more than a pet. Our dogs are beloved family members, adventuresome sidekicks, and daily comforts whose presences serve as blessings. Though we feed them and provide shelter, it often seems as if we owners come out far ahead in the bargain. After all, we receive a priceless degree of unwavering loyalty, not to mention the tangible health benefits that researchers have tied to dog ownership. One of these benefits, the incentivizing of an active lifestyle, often gets under-appreciated.
Sarah Cornett, owner of the Pilates Project and proud parent of Gus the pug, has some insight into how a four-legged friend can promote a healthier you.
“People always talk about working out with their dogs,” says Sarah. “And it almost seems like a given for some people that their dogs function as part of an active lifestyle. Just the other day, my husband and I were walking Gus on the Trinity Trail and lost count of the number of people out with their dogs.”
Sarah has noticed that for some people, the fact of dog ownership promotes exercise that they may not otherwise pursue.
“People who wouldn’t necessarily get out on their own will do it for their dog. Gus gets walked three times a day, for example. The responsibility of pet ownership can serve as healthy motivation for regular exercise.”
Researchers have highlighted some facts that back up Sarah’s observations. A 2006 study at the University of Victoria found that the average dog owner walked nearly twice as far each week as a non-owner. The benefits become even more profound for the elderly: older dog owners are much more likely to walk their pets multiple times per day.
In many ways, dogs can function as ideal workout companions. Always eager to go, ready to press forward regardless of the time of day or weather; and as for gear, all that’s required is a sturdy leash.
“The best thing about a workout with a dog is that they’re not going to complain or want to end the workout,” says Sarah. “They won’t say ‘we’ve gone too far,’ or ‘I want to quit.’ Of course, you have to watch it during the summer. Our Gus, for example, isn’t really an endurance dog, but he still loves his walks.”