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Work Out The Easy Way - Walk A Dog

walk a dog and lose weight!Dog owners know that your pup may be your best friend and provide a stress free, relaxing relationship, but did you know dogs also might be an instrumental tool in weight loss and help relieve arthritis pain?

Dr. Patience White, chief public health officer of the Arthritis Foundation says, "Walking your dog for a half an hour or even 10 minutes three times a day will help to significantly reduce pain and stiffness."

A study undertaken in New South Wales found that 41 per cent of dog owners walk, on average, 18 minutes per week longer than people without dogs. Another study, at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has found that having a pet can encourage owners to get more exercise. What's the benefit of the added physical activity? More weight loss than most nationally known diet plans!

The weight loss benefits seem to come from the regular exercise. It seems that many people hate to walk alone, but taking a dog out for a walk provides a great reason to stretch your legs.

"The first group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds, a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans report."

In its report Dog Walking and Physical Activity in the United States, the Center for Disease Control says, "Dog walking may support and motivate physical activity by providing companionship and creating expectations in similar ways to human buddy systems.

Walking the dog, in contrast to many other forms of physical activity, is relatively easy and convenient to do, because it can generally be done in one’s own neighborhood."

The researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that even taking care of a dog that isn't yours helps trim the fat.

puppy wants to get out and play!“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,” said Rebecca Johnson, associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction.

“Our first study group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds during the one-year program.”

Having participants engage in a shorter and longer program enabled the researchers to identify which program produced more weight loss. The first group walked for 50 weeks, while the second group walked for only 26 weeks. Johnson found that the first group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds, a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans report.

Johnson said the weight loss in the second group was not statistically significant, but that the participants did engage in other activities that surprised the researchers.

“The results of the first group were wonderful,” Johnson said. “Even though we didn’t see a significant amount of weight loss in the group that walked for a shorter period of time, by the end of the study, all the participants were walking for longer periods of time and walking for daily errands instead of using some other type of transportation.

“In addition, two of the participants made a trip to the humane society to adopt animals, and several began volunteering to walk the dogs at the shelter. Many of them told us that they didn’t necessarily walk in the study because they knew it was good for their health; they enjoyed walking because they knew it was good for the animals.”

The dogs in the study were provided by the Pet Assisted Love and Support program at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. The dogs are pets of faculty and staff at the college and must pass rigorous safety training procedures and a “good citizenship” test before they are allowed to be in the program. In addition, all human participants in the program were fitted with new walking shoes.

The Missouri Foundation for Health funded the study. Johnson’s next research project involves people taking animals to the gym. While walking only addresses certain aspects of fitness, Johnson believes that animals viewed as support companions while at the gym can increase a participant’s self-esteem and encourage them to exercise in other ways that will benefit their health.

About The Author... Editorial Staff

Source... The Missouri Foundation for Health - Newswise

More about the benefits of walking your dog around the Web:

Dog walking - the health benefits

The Dog Walking Diet


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