Daily dog walks work off the pounds
By Megan Rauscher
Fri Oct 21, 9:48 AM ET
Dogs may be more than man’s best friend; they may also be a tool for losing weight, according to a new study that shows making a commitment to walk a dog – your own or someone else’s – leads to increased exercise and weight loss.
The goal of the study, according to Rebecca Johnson, was to encourage sedentary overweight people to exercise and specifically to walk.
“We know that walking is good for people but we don’t know how to get people to continue to do it. We wanted to see whether bonding with a dog might be a motivator to continue walking,” said Johnson, who is an associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
According to Johnson, the 50-week walkers lost an average of 14 pounds during the one-year program. “That’s a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans,” she told Reuters Health.
The walkers “bonded with the animals, improved their flexibility, balance and ability to walk, lost weight and felt better about themselves so it was a very positive thing all around,” Johnson added.
The 26-week walkers did not lose as much weight as the 50-week walkers “so we know that it takes a year see the weight come off,” Johnson said. Having a dog or being responsible for walking someone’s dog may be just the motivating factor to keep people walking or encourage more people to walk, she said. [/quote]