We always keep hearing that owning a dog helps dog owners stay in shape, or at the very least make their lives healthier, but is it true?
Well, yes, of course it is, as long as you adhere to what a standard dog owner does. The physical requirements of dogs alone will help keep you more fit than usual.
Sure, you can do that without a dog, but meeting another living being’s needs is somehow more motivating than doing it for yourself, though that depends on the person.
It also makes exercise a lot more fun and enjoyable, plus there’s mutual benefit in staying fit and earning the love of your pooch.
Most people find gyms put too much pressure on them, while it’s more free-form doing it with a dog out in nature.
But what are all the ways dogs help us stay fit? Let’s take a look.
1. It Promotes A Healthier Lifestyle
Starting with the most basic premise is the fact that taking care of a pooch means tending to both his dietary needs as well as physical and mental ones.
This will usually include around 30 minutes up to 2 hours of moderate physical exercise depending on breed, separated into walks and playtime.
The walks alone will help you live a more active lifestyle, especially if you’re someone with an office job which involves a lot of sitting.
Being out in the sun helps absorb more vitamin D which helps you be healthier overall and improves mood.
As for being fit, the playtime period is part of a more active physical exercise.
While it won’t help you build muscle, it will help you watch your weight, as all physical activity does.
2. Owning A Dog Helps Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Fitness benefits don’t just come from physical exercise, but your mental state as well, and there’s no better remedy in improving one’s mental state than having a pet around.
Not only does the companionship of a loyal pooch who you take care of and who provides you with unconditional love help reduce stress hormone levels, being seen with a pet in public makes people appear friendlier too.
And, less stress and a more positive attitude helps us stay active and more motivated, making it more likely to partake in healthier activities.
Not to mention avoiding the negative effects of stress overall.
Will Getting A Dog Guarantee An Improvement In Health?
Unfortunately not as it depends from one person to another.
Having a pet will show positive results in a lot of people, but one needs to understand that this is a symbiotic relationship rather than a parasitic one.
The dog isn’t there to provide unconditional love without having his needs met, the owner needs to put work in too.
This is something that not everyone is fit to do and the dog often ends up getting left neglected.
So, before you look at getting a dog as the cure for potential problems with watching your weight or mood-related issues, reassess whether you have the time and money to meet his needs or not.
If you think you’re capable of it, then, by all means go ahead, just understand that it’s a big commitment that a lot of people fail to realize.
Does Getting A Dog Guarantee Weight Loss?
It does improve your chances, but it doesn’t guarantee it, or rather, it shouldn’t be a replacement for other weight loss techniques.
It’s no miracle cure that’ll make sure you suddenly lose pounds and become healthy.
That requires a bit more commitment on your part, but it can make it a lot easier to make the necessary lifestyle changes to facilitate it.
Namely, a healthier diet is needed, first and foremost, as is eliminating other bad habits should you have any.
Finally, some extra exercise on top of all that may be needed too depending on your fitness goals.
But, once you reach said goal, it will help maintain you at the desired sweet spot as dog owners tend to walk a lot more than people without pets which can keep weight in check.
It also helps you get those daily steps in.
Do dogs help us stay fit? They sure do, but how effective that is depends on the owner.
The dog can’t force you to walk him, but if you’re a committed pet parent who is going to meet your furry friend’s needs, you’ll certainly be more physically active than you were prior.
It also won’t feel as much of a chore as it would doing it through other forms of exercise, though that depends from one person to another.
The main reason why getting a dog is recommended for anyone looking to become a bit healthier both physically and mentally is a more entertaining health plan.
Not only will the stress relief that comes from added companionship help improve your mood, it’ll also improve your willingness to commit to various physical activities.
A lot of things that help you stay in shape will become more tolerable and easier to do, especially the physical activities you perform with your pooch, like games of fetch, tug of war and the like.
Just make sure you’re ready to give something back to your dear doggo for everything he’s giving to you here.
Until next time, pet parents.
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 Emily L. R. T. (October, 2019.), Paws for Thought: A Controlled Study Investigating the Benefits of Interacting with a House-Trained Dog on University Students Mood and Anxiety, DOI
 Shane G. B., Ryan E. R. (February, 2006.), Relationships among dog ownership and leisure-time walking in Western Canadian adults, DOI