How your dog could be the secret to weight loss

Lana Bandoim's picture

Have you considered how a pet can help you lose weight and keep it off?

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You may not need a magic pill in order to shed those extra pounds because all you need is a dog. Not only does this faithful pet offer companionship and help you achieve a healthier, longer life, but it can also help you get rid of some of those unwanted pounds. Approximately two thirds of the people who own dogs have discovered their companion to be the basis of various weight loss and lasting health benefits. Even people who are not dog lovers seem to be changing their minds.

Whatever your excuse for not getting a dog, whether it is a rule at your apartment complex or fear of destroyed furniture, the results of the following studies may be enough to change your thinking. Your health and wellness are important, and dogs can help promote weight loss in their owners.

Dogs promote exercise

Healthy dogs must go on walks, and those walks can last from 15 minutes to a full hour. On average, these daily walks result in 30 minutes of exercise at least five times per week for the owner, which is the CDC recommendation for those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

“There is exercise that gets done in this household that wouldn’t get done otherwise,” said Dr. Matthew Reeves, lead researcher on a study linking weight loss with owning a dog. “Our dogs demand that you take them out at 10 o’clock at night, when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. They’re not going to leave you alone until they get their walk in.”

In addition, those who enjoy regular walks with their dogs are also more likely to engage in other forms of exercise. They might play football in the park with some friends or go hiking in local parks. The fitness benefits of owning a dog are high, and it provides the motivation you need to go outside and engage in some physical activity.

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By comparison, those without dogs are more likely to avoid exercise and create excuses. When people do not have an external motivating factor that forces them outside, they lose the drive for activity, which slows down their metabolism and encourages weight gain.

Dogs reduce stress and anxiety

Stress has long been recognized as one of the most common causes of weight gain. Unfortunately, it causes overeating and lack of activity in large segments of the population. The hormones in your body become confused under stress, which hampers their ability to burn calories and function properly. It takes a strong emotional change to turn this process around. Pets, such as dogs, provide great emotional support. Whether you have a debilitating mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, or you are stressed, the unconditional love and cuddles of your pooch can be exactly what you need to remove some of those mental blocks.

One study from the State University of New York at Buffalo suggests that people tend to experience less stress when a dog is present, even when conducting high stress tasks, such as meeting a deadline or visiting new people. People felt less anxiety with a dog present than they did with a spouse or a supportive friend.

“While the idea of a pet as social support may appear to some as a peculiar notion, our participants' responses to stress, combined with their descriptions of the meaning of pets in their lives, suggest to us that social support can indeed cross species,” said Karen Allen, Ph.D., who is the lead study author.

Whether it is stress or lack of exercise that is keeping you from shedding the extra pounds, a dog may be the answer. Your new best friend can be a great motivator and may be your best weight loss secret. Pets can be a valuable resource for your health.

Image from Pixabay.com and used with permission.

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Comments

I wish I was able to take my dog jogging with me! She acts up on a lease. Instead, we play in the backyard. My son especially loves when we all play tag. It can be such a workout!
This is such a great idea! The problem with my dod is that she is still a puppy but very big and she still hasn't learned how to make normal paced walks with me. She is a lot stronger than me but maybe training her will help me exercise and in the future when she is used to it will be great!
Very interesting twist to this topic! Totally sharing it :)