Having trouble getting motivated to hop on that treadmill or go for a long walks around the neighborhood for your daily dose of exercise? Then you might want to consider an alternate method: walking dogs for exercise. Dogs are actually the best personal trainers around! They are always ready to go, tirelessly hard-working, and what could be a better motivator than that sad, dopey face when they really want to go for a walk? But how much can walking a dog really help you exercise? In 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that only 16 percent of Americans aged 15 and older engaged in any type of exercise a day on average. However a Michigan State University study reported that in dog walkers, 60 percent met the criteria for moderate or vigorous exercise. It also found that those who walked dogs averaged about 30 minutes of exercise per day, which is the general recommendation in order to maintain good health, but can also help with weight loss for both you and the dog.
How Many Calories Can You Burn Dog Walking?While it ultimately depends on the pace and general temperament of the dog, a person of average weight can burn around 205 calories per hour of walking a dog at a leisurely pace of 2-mph, including potty and idle sniffing breaks. However, if the dog likes to walk fast and pull their leash, dog walkers actually burn more calories trying to keep up with them and pulling back on their leash trying to keep them in line. While 205 calories may sound like a negligible amount, it adds up over time. If you walk a dog for an hour each day of the week, you have burned 1,435 calories during that time you could have spent sitting behind a desk and not burning anything. It only takes 3,500 burned calories to lose one pound, so after a week, dog walkers are nearly half way there. However, it is also worth noting that heavier people will be burning more calories and there are ways to increase the calories burned such as walking uphill or moving at a faster pace. Unfortunately, you have to make sure that this pace and the length of the walk is also appropriate for the breed of dog. Active breeds like Labradors, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers will always be up for long, fast walks until they get to an advanced age. However, less active breeds like Pugs with their squished noses that makes it harder to breathe, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds with their short legs, and dogs with a lazy temperament will not want to go for overly long or fast walks. They will get tired eventually, start to slow down, and even whine when they want to go home. With these dogs, it is best to do shorter walks at more intervals instead of one long walk per day.
Health Benefits of Dog Walking Dogs for ExerciseEven if you aren't looking to lose a few pounds walking dogs, both you and the dog will reap the benefits of daily walks. Dog owners often tend to overlook a few extra pounds that their dog has put on because who doesn't love a squishy tummy to pet? However, even a couple extra pounds can take a few years off a dog's already short life. Yet, dog walks don't just promote a healthier life for both parties; they can actually help your dog work through some of their more annoying mental issues as well.
- Breast cancer risk reduced by 75 percent
- Heart disease risk decreased by 49 percent
- Diabetes risk lowered by 35 percent
- Colon cancer risk decreased by 22 percent
- Relive constipation and maintain healthy digestive systems
- Reduce destructive behavior from boredom or excess energy
- Decrease attention-seeking behavior like whining and barking
- Increases longevity
- Fosters both physical and mental well-being from being stimulated