Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Forget the Treadmill and Get a Dog

I've been kind of preachy on the idea that you shouldn't focus so much on
"exercising" as you should on just plain old "moving."

Let's face it. Exercise is work. You have to make time for it in your otherwise busy day. Not only that, but "exercise" also means a change of clothes, driving to the gym, etc.

Not that I'm against exercise, it's just that I think we get more long term benefits from just learning to incorporate more movement into our days, then going to a gym for a huge, sweat producing work-out that you don't always have time to do.

So, when I read this article about the benefits of just owning a dog, I think it shows me to be right: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/forget-the-treadmill-get-a-dog/?ref=health

Essentially, a study showed that people who owned dogs, who walked them, were generally in good health. Among dog owners who went for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise. Of course, people who just open their back doors to let the dog out, didn't get the same benefits from dog ownership as the walkers did.

What's more, dogs are more likely to get you moving longer and faster then humans. Here's what the article had to say:

A study last year from the University of Missouri showed that for getting exercise, dogs are better walking companions than humans. In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted-living home, some people selected a friend or spouse as a walking companion, while others took a bus daily to a local animal shelter, where they were assigned a dog to walk.

To the surprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a much greater improvement in fitness. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just 4 percent among the human walkers.

Dr. Johnson, the study’s lead author, said that human walkers often complained about the heat and talked each other out of exercise, but that people who were paired with dogs didn’t make those excuses.

“They help themselves by helping the dog,” said Dr. Johnson, co-author of the new book “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound,” to be published in May by Purdue University Press. “If we’re committed to a dog, it enables us to commit to physical activity ourselves.”


  1. Super dogs! Flying!

    We'd like to get a dog, but...allergies. Therefore, we'll have to settle for just exercising and moving more...which is something we work on every day in our little household.

    Dogs are super cool and fun (and smelly). Haha!

  2. This post throws a whole new light on the title of your blog ;)

  3. A year or so ago there was another column at Well about older people who committed to walking dogs for a shelter and those who committed to walk with a (human) friend. Those who walked the dogs were more likely keep the commitment. Lots of reasons were given for this, but this one was overlooked: I think those who walked the dogs felt needed.

    In the comments I see lots of excuses because dogs stop and sniff everything. My dog does, too. I just give her leash a gentle tug and off we go.

    My dog really likes to walk. I need to walk. It's a win-win for both of us.

  4. I love the photo!!! I had dogs all the time growing up, and I wish I could get a dog now, but we're just not home enough to give it the time and attention it would deserve. We have the next best thing though, a cat who thinks she's a dog. Until I can be home more, I'll live vicariously through you on your dog walks!!

  5. I actually don't have a dog. I wish I did, but the only person who would take care of it is me, and I don't have the time. Plus, my husband hates all pets. I'm lucky I have a cat.