Today was Belle’s grooming day and she looks cute as can be. She got me wondering if there really is a health benefit to having a dog.
I have a lot of new clients who when I ask them about their physical activity tell me that they walk their dog. I usually think this doesn’t count because the pace isn’t high enough to raise one’s heart rate–especially if you’ve got a dog who loves to stop and sniff.
A little research yielded an article from the Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/walking-the-dog-yes-it-counts-as-exercise. It surprised me in a positive way.
The research indicates that dog owners have a much higher rate of achieving the 150 minutes of exercise recommended each week for adults: 87% for dog owners as opposed to 47% for non-dog owners. Obviously the people at Harvard never met Belle; I don’t know if my heart rate increases but I’ll bet my blood pressure increases as she drags me along doing everything except for the business at hand.
Owning a dog, of course, has other health benefits. They can be calming and provide a sense of lightness in our lives. Additionally, when we walk your dog or go to the dog park it increases our social interaction; we meet others and develop a sense of connectedness to our neighborhood.
As for cats….most of them I have met are not so walkable. Dogs, though, are indeed our best friends in a whole variety of ways.