New studies suggest there are myriad health benefits.
While it's no surprise that walking a dog is an enjoyable activity, two new studies have delved deeper into the benefits and found that adults who walk a dog (whether they own one or not), are "more likely than those who do not to meet the standard exercise recommendation of about 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity." Regular walks can also keep dogs lean and even improve their behavior compared to pups who are not getting enough regular exercise.
The research found that despite these known benefits, 40 percent of dog owners rarely ever go on walks with their dogs. Katie Becofsky, professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst worked with her colleagues to uncover what makes dog owners more likely to go on regular walks and while she discovered that weather is a factor, she stresses that "dog walking has so much potential to inspire more physical activity" so she hopes to see those numbers go up. Melanie Sartore-Baldwin led a dog-walking study as well and found that participants were "surprised they were walking so much" and that they reported, "the dogs seemed so happy that it made them feel better about themselves too."