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3 Ways Dogs Can Lead to a Healthier Lifestyle

by Athletico1 Comment

There is no doubt that dogs have earned their label as man’s best friend.

In addition to being loyal and lovable companions, dogs have the ability to improve the health and overall well-being of their owners. From increasing activity levels to reducing stress, read below to discover how owning a dog can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

1. Increased Activity

Many dog owners know that a tired dog is a good dog, and the best way to tire a dog out is with physical activity. As a result of taking dogs on walks and playing fetch, many dog owners end up increasing their own activity levels without even trying.

A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health reveals that dog owners who walk their dogs are 2.5 times more likely to participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.1 In addition to walking, there are many other activities that dogs and humans can do together, including running, hiking, rollerblading, swimming and even paddle-boarding. Regular physical activity is also linked to many health benefits, including a healthier weight and a decrease in the chance of heart disease.2

2. Reduce Stress

Dogs are great companions who are always there for their families. Oftentimes our canine friends are the only ones who can cheer us up after a bad day. Not only do dogs tend to be a calming force, but they also can be comforting in tough times. This is why therapy dogs are frequently used to provide comfort in times of high stress and tragedy. In fact, a Tennessee hospital recently brought in a full-time comfort dog whose job is to brighten staffers’ and patients’ days.3

In addition to providing comfort, a recent study shows that when dogs and humans look into each other’s eyes, each experiences a surge of oxytocin, which is the hormone associated with trust and love.4 The surge of this hormone could be the reason behind the human and dog bond, as well as the reason why dogs tend to reduce stress and comfort people.

3. Provide Structure

Consistency is often the most difficult part about living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for someone to set health goals, start out great for a few months, and then fall back into their old habits. Owning a dog, however, is a long-term commitment that can help to provide structure and consistency. Dogs have a routine that needs to be followed, which typically results in owners getting into a more consistent schedule in their daily lives.

It is also important to note that a consistent schedule can lead to many other healthy habits. For example, dog owners who adjust their schedule so they are home to feed their dogs dinner may also start an evening walking routine with their canine companions. Other healthy habits that may occur as a result of owning a dog include adhering to a better sleep schedule or adding dog-friendly activities, like hiking, to weekend routines.

Keeping You Moving

At Athletico, our therapists play an active role in the promotion of health and wellness.

Since dogs also help promote healthy lifestyles, Athletico partnered with One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue for the Shamrock Shuffle Health and Fitness Expo to show our commitment to helping individuals live healthy and active lifestyle.

As always, if unusual aches and pains occur as a result of increasing activity levels, start the healing process by clicking the button below to request a free assessment at your nearest Athletico location.

Schedule a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

References:
1. Soares, Jesus, Jacqueline N. Epping, Chantelle J. Owens, David R. Brown, Tina J. Lankford, Eduardo J. Simoes, and Carl J. Caspersen. “Odds of Getting Adequate Physical Activity by Dog Walking.”Journal of Physical Activity and Health S1 (2015): n. pag. Web.
2. “Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart.”Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart. American Heart Association, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walk-Dont-Run-Your-Way-to-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_452926_Article.jsp#.WNz_h1XythE>.
3. WBIR-TV, Knoxville Tenn. “Hospital ‘hires’ Full-time Comfort Dog.”USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 28 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/03/28/hospital-full-time-comfort-dog/99727894/>.
4. Rothkopf, Joanna. “Science Finally Explains the Real Reason Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend.”Salon. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. <http://www.salon.com/2015/04/16/science_finally_explains_the_real_reason_dogs_are_mans_best_friend/>.

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