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Dogs: They Do A Body Good

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There has been a lot written about the benefits of pet ownership, and according to a study released last week, dog owners who take their pets for regular walks reap positive physical benefits.

The study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State University tracked exercise habits of 5900, 2170 of them dog owners.  The study revealed that 2/3 of dog owners took their pets for regular walks lasting at least 10 minutes.  The dog walkers had higher overall levels of moderate and vigorous physical than the subjects that do not own dogs.  Dog owners were also more likely to take part in other physical activities like sports and gardening.  They exercised about 30 minutes more per week than those not owning a dog.

Dog ownership did not guarantee an increase in physical activity, however, since there are dog owners that don’t walk their pets.  People in the 18-24 year old age group walked their dogs the most, and college graduates more than twice as much as those with less education.  Younger dogs were walked more than older dogs and bigger dogs were taken for longer walks than smaller dogs.

When asked why they didn’t walk their dogs, 40 % of these owners said their dogs ran free in a yard and didn’t need walks (a misconception, dogs still need walks for mental stimulation and chance to “be a dog”), while 11% hired dog walkers.

With spring finally approaching, now is a great time to hit the trail with your dog………it’ll do you both good.  Have you walked your pooch today?

Information for this article from “Forget the Treadmill, Get a Dog” on nytimes.com 3/14/11

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