How Do Dogs Encourage Exercise

The Joy of Walking and Playing with Dogs

Dogs absolutely love going for walks and playing, which in turn motivates their owners to exercise with them. According to one article, most dogs get incredibly excited when it’s time for their walk because it’s a chance to explore, socialize, and bond with their owner (https://www.thewildest.com/dog-behavior/dogs-love-walks-many-reasons). Dogs are filled with enthusiasm and energy when going for a stroll or playing fetch at the park. Their sheer excitement makes dog walking an enjoyable experience for owners too.

dogs excited and happy to go on walks with owners

Seeing how overjoyed dogs get from physical activity with their owner encourages people to walk and exercise regularly. It’s hard not to smile and feel happier when you have an eager, tail-wagging companion by your side. Taking dogs out for walks or play provides quality bonding time while also benefiting health for both pet and owner.

Dogs Require Regular Walks

Most dogs need 1-2 walks per day for bathroom breaks and exercise (1). Walking your dog regularly provides an opportunity for them to relieve themselves outside instead of in the house. According to the AKC, adult dogs should be walked at least twice per day for exercise and mental stimulation (2). The length and frequency of walks depends on factors like the dog’s age, breed, and health. For example, puppies and senior dogs may need more frequent but shorter walks. Herding breeds like Border Collies require more intense exercise than toy breeds. Overall, regular leash walks of 15-30 minutes, 1-2 times per day provides dogs with sufficient bathroom and exercise opportunities.

Sources:

(1) https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-walk-your-dog/

(2) https://shallowfordvet.com/how-often-should-i-walk-my-dog/

Dogs Keep You Accountable

One of the biggest ways dogs encourage exercise is by keeping their owners accountable. Dogs require daily exercise and outdoor time, so owners feel obliged to maintain a regular walking schedule. As pet expert Cesar Milan notes, dogs need 20-30 minutes of brisk walking at least once a day. Knowing your dog depends on you for their health and happiness is a powerful motivator to get moving. Dogs provide that extra push out the door even on days you’d rather skip a walk.

dogs keep owners accountable to walk regularly

Studies confirm that dog owners tend to stick to a regular exercise routine more than non-owners. A 2020 study in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine found that acquiring a dog significantly improved participant’s daily step counts and time spent exercising in the year after adoption. The researchers concluded that dogs seem to facilitate long-term improvements in physical activity levels by providing “ongoing motivation for regular walking.” Your furry companion keeps you committed to a healthy active lifestyle.

Dogs Get You Outdoors

Walking a dog gets owners outdoors instead of sitting inside. The fresh air and change of scenery provides mental health benefits. According to research, spending time outdoors can reduce stress, boost mood, and increase mental energy (source). Simply taking your dog for a walk gets you off the couch and away from screens. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms and vitamin D levels. Being in nature also encourages people to walk longer distances without even realizing it.

The sights, sounds, and smells of being outside with your dog can lift your spirits. Dogs live in the moment and their joy at exploring the outdoors is contagious for owners. Walking together outside strengthens the human-animal bond. Overall, dogs motivate their owners to go outside for walks, providing a powerful incentive for both physical activity and mental relaxation.

Dogs Encourage Social Exercise

One of the best parts of owning a dog is the social opportunities they provide. When walking dogs in your neighborhood or at the local park, you’re able to socialize with other pet owners. Dog walking routes and dog parks become hubs for meeting fellow dog lovers. Research shows pet owners tend to have more social relationships than non-owners. Dogs give their owners a shared interest to bond over and a reason to connect on walks or while playing at the dog park 1. The American Kennel Club found in a survey that 40% of dog owners made friends when out with their pets. Dog parents often become walking buddies and pet playdates turn into human socialization too. Having a companion like a dog reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness. Dogs naturally draw people together and spark conversations between strangers. Our furry friends help us feel more comfortable initiating conversations and friendships. Their happy presence spreads joy that brings people together.

dogs facilitate social connections during walks

Exercising Dogs Has Physical Health Benefits

Regular moderate exercise from dog walking provides many physical health benefits for both dogs and their owners.

According to the Better Health Victoria website, regular dog walking helps improve cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart muscle, lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation [1]. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as brisk walking, which is easily achievable through regular dog walks.

In addition to cardiovascular benefits, walking dogs also increases muscle strength and endurance in the legs and core. It helps promote healthy weight maintenance by burning calories. The walking motion assists lymphatic circulation to boost immune system function. Overall, regular dog walking provides an easy and enjoyable way to meet daily exercise needs with measurable physical health improvements.

Exercising Dogs Reduces Stress

Walking and playing with dogs has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol in humans. According to a study by Hopkins Medicine, simply petting a dog can lower cortisol levels [1]. The social interaction between people and their dogs while exercising boosts endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. Going on regular walks or playing fetch provides opportunities for this stress-reducing interaction. The companionship of a dog can also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Active Dogs Motivate Extra Activity

High energy dog breeds like Labradors and Border Collies require a significant amount of exercise and activity each day. According to the AKC, active breeds like the Labrador Retriever need 30-60 minutes of exercise per day to stay fit and healthy 1. These energetic pups encourage their owners to be more active in order to meet their exercise needs. Walking an active dog breed for just 30 minutes burns around 150 calories for a 160 pound person.

high energy dogs motivate extra physical activity

In addition to long walks, high energy dogs motivate activities like playing fetch, going for runs or hikes, swimming, and agility training. Their excitement and eagerness makes exercise fun rather than a chore. With an energetic dog that needs activity, you’ll find yourself more motivated to get outside, move around, and burn extra calories you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Studies show that dog owners tend to be more physically active than non-dog owners. Having an energetic dog breeds leads to an increase in mild, moderate, and vigorous physical activity according to research 2. Their active nature rubs off, encouraging you to match their energy and enthusiasm for exercise.

Dogs Make Exercise Fun

One of the best parts of owning a dog is that they turn exercise into a fun bonding activity. Dogs absolutely love going on walks, playing fetch, and running around outdoors. Their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious, making you want to join in the fun. According to veterinarians at Texas A&M University, “Exercising with your dog also strengthens the human-animal bond. Dogs enjoy having a job and interacting with their owner. Exercising together gives you quality bonding time with your pet.”1 The companionship of a dog turns exercise into a fun daily activity instead of a chore.

Dogs bring out your inner child, getting you to run around and play like when you were a kid. Their happy faces and wagging tails show how much they love playing with you. It’s simply more enjoyable to go for a jog or play a game of fetch when you have your eager canine companion by your side. The American Kennel Club notes that, “Exercising together strengthens the bond between you and your dog as you learn to work as a team.”2 With a dog, fitness becomes less of a solo chore and more of a fun daily adventure.

Exercising Dogs Has Lasting Lifestyle Effects

Adopting a dog leads to long-term improvements in physical activity and overall health. Studies show that acquiring a dog increases the amount of walking, running, and other exercise people engage in over the long-term, even years after getting a dog (Dog Owners Get More Exercise). The commitment and responsibility of owning a dog encourages the development of regular exercise habits. Dog owners get into a routine of daily walks, trips to the dog park, and active playtime. These new exercise habits then become ingrained, leading to lasting lifestyle changes.

Research shows that dog owners continue to be more physically active than non-dog owners for up to 10 years after acquiring their pet (Does having a pet influence physical activity?). The increase in physical activity from owning a dog also translates to long-term health benefits like lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of obesity and diabetes. Ultimately, adopting a dog improves fitness through the motivation to take them on regular walks and play. This leads dog owners to be more active and healthier for years to come.

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