(Allison Olmsted, Forbes) The life benefits of having a dog are well established, for the obvious reason that you have to take dogs outside.
In terms of public health, the big problem isn’t that there aren’t enough people running triathlons, it’s that people are not walking, moving and getting outside enough.
Even the most laid-back dog owner will get more, every day, heart healthy exercise by simple virtue of the fact that dogs need to be walked multiple times. Even on the coldest, rainiest days, when you might never otherwise leave your couch, having a dog gets you moving.
But there are many other benefits. Psychology Today reported that pets provide meaningful social support for owners, improving their lives.
In fact, the publication reported that three separate studies showed that dogs provided owners with “significant” benefits over non-owners.
Dog owners: more fit, less lonely
Dog people had greater self-esteem, better physical fitness, were less lonely, more conscientious, more socially outgoing and had healthier relationship styles.
And just last year, Time reported that “Dogs are more than just cuddly companions – research continues to show that pets bring real health benefits to their owners.”
Time’s research showed that having a dog could lead to lower stress levels for both adults and children, linked dog ownership to lower blood pressure, and even found it decreased the risk of asthma in children.
From a fitness perspective, Time noted that researchers found dog owners were more active, taking an average of 2,760 more steps per day, or an additional 23 daily minutes of moderate exercise.
A UK study did even better, finding that non-dog owners had 30 more sedentary minutes daily, and shockingly, that on average, dog owners got more exercise on the coldest, darkest, winter days than non-owners did on the nicest, sunniest, summer ones. Read the full story at Forbes.