“Evidence suggests dog ownership is associated with lower risk of death, and a lower risk of cardiovascular conditions at least in single-person households.”
Scientists from the University of Liverpool researched 385 families living in the institution’s home county from July to August of 2015. Out of the 385 families, the survey found that 191 people were dog owners, 455 were not dog owners, and 46 were children.
Researchers found that dog owners were “far more likely” to report walking for recreational purposes compared to non-dog owners. Gizmodo outlined this finding further.
“More than 80 percent of dog owners reported doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week—the amount of exercise recommended by physical activity guidelines across the world.”
In total, the study found that dog owners walked their dogs a median of seven times per week, for a median time of 220 minutes. However, even without the dog present, dog owners were more likely than non-dog-owners to engage in light exercises, such as jogging or running.
However, the article was quick to point out that non-dog-owners displayed moderate fitness tendencies.
“Non-owners weren’t necessarily lazy (around 62 percent also reported exercising that much), but dog owners were roughly four times (or 400 percent) more likely to meet the criteria.”
Interestingly, the study also found that non-dog-owners were more likely than their dog-owning counterparts to use walking as a form of transportation.
The benefits of having a dog seemed to extend beyond weight. The study also found that dog owners had higher rates of employment, higher household gross income, better education levels, and better self-rated health.
Having a dog also positively affect the health of children. The report claimed that children in families with a dog showed higher levels of participation in “recreational walking and free time physical activity.”
The effects appeared to have the greatest impact in the United Kingdom. When the study incorporated participants from the United States, Australia, and Japan, the study found that dog owners were only 60 times more likely to have gotten fit enough.
Researchers believe that this is because the United States, Australia, and Japan often have environments, like large backyards, where dogs can exercise by themselves. This means that dog walks are not as necessary, and the study showed that less than a third of dog-walkers from the U.S. got the recommended 150 minutes of exercise.
Though the gains were smaller, the research still showed that dog owners were healthier. Talk about the best health and fitness regimen ever!