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Could walking your dog improve your health?

It’s 5:45 pm on a crisp late winter day, and I’m walking my dog. In reality, the dog is walking me since I’m just bobbing along behind her as she pulls and sniffs for squirrels along a wooded nature path. Curly Sue, a dog of questionable heritage, just knows there’s a critter lurking in the tall grass.

Today, as Curly sniffs and tugs, I watch the clouds in the sky.  Because the day’s temperatures were pleasant, this will be our standard 40-minute walk up and down the hills in my neighborhood.  In the summer heat, we find a shadier route and carry her water bottle plus mine.

Whether it’s a 100 or 48-degree day, though, Curly jumps at the sight of her leash in my hand. She runs to the gate, looking expectantly behind her, probably thinking, “Hurry up! I need this walk.”

Apparently, we humans need these dog walks, too. According to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine in 2010, walking your dog 30 minutes a day means that you’re meeting the national standards for physical activity.

The study compared health benefits of three groups: dog owners who walked their dogs, dog owners who did not walk their dogs, and people who did not own dogs.  The dog walkers were more physically fit, had a lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

I don’t always get excited about my dog walks.  Some days, a dog walk seems like a chore, but this study reminds me what my dog walks do for me. So lace up those walking shoes, grab the leash and get out there with me.  And, if you’re contemplating skipping this dog walk, check out your dog’s eager face.

There’s a reason we call them man’s best friend.

Get more out of your exercise routine by incorporating an interval walking program

About the author

Susan Hall
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Susan joined Baylor many years ago when Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas was the only Baylor facility in the area. When not at work, she’s outside – Big Bend National Park is her favorite with Glacier National Park a close second.

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Could walking your dog improve your health?