Dog
Studies find that owning a dog is good for ones' health. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Some medical studies are showing that there are health benefits to having a canine pet. People who own dogs tend to have healthier hearts because taking care of a pooch means having to get out of the house. Pet owners do enjoy health benefits because of their four-legged companions.

Dogs promote exercise

Studies are beginning to pile up that suggest getting a dog is a great thing to do because of the benefits of the extra exercise, according to the New York Times. A study done by researchers at the University of Michigan, one of the most prestigious research universities in the United States, found that 60 percent of dog owners who were surveyed regularly engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise. Almost 50 percent of dog owners got 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, compared with 30 percent of surveyed non-dog owners. The current Physical Activity Guidelines from the U.S. government recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, according to WebMD, and a half hour of dog walking per day for five days a week meets that recommendation.

Young and educated should get big dogs to reap benefits

The study found young people between the ages of 18 and 24 were more likely to regularly walk their dogs than those 65 years of age or older, though middle aged dog owners had the least amount of time to devote to dog walking. The study also found people with a college education were more likely than those without to go on regular dog walks. The results of the survey also indicated there was an incentive to get a Doberman, Bernese Mountain Dog or Irish Wolfhound rather than a small dog, as large breed owners took their dogs on longer walks. Taking a larger dog on a longer walk means more exercise, but the study does concede that the health effects were a correlated to, not caused by, owning a dog.

Pets good for health

There is a large body of knowledge about health benefits of pet ownership. Owning a pet is known to ease loneliness and depression, and having to walk a dog regularly means regular exercise, which benefits heart health and the immune system among other things. The Centers for Disease Control states that owning a pet can lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, and it increases the opportunities for a person to get regular exercise, enjoy the outdoors and socialize.

Sources

The New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/forget-the-treadmill-get-a-dog/

WebMD: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/news/20110315/dog-walkers-more-active-overall

Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm

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