How Your Dog Can Help You Lose Weight
People who are trying to lose weight often will often try a wide variety of eating programs and techniques to drop those extra pounds. Among the motivators for weight loss may be a canine friend, which is why I want to talk about how your dog can help you lose weight.
You may be saying to yourself, “It’s pretty basic, right? If I have a dog, I walk the dog for exercise and so I burn some extra calories, which can help me lose weight.” Yes, that’s true, but it goes a little deeper than that, and can include people who don’t even have a dog of their own!
Ways your dog can help you lose weight
First of all, walking your dog is good exercise for both you and your pooch in terms of weight loss and maintenance and allowing your dog to expend some of her energy. However, walking your dog on a daily basis is more than just exercise:
- It’s a routine, and having scheduled, regular exercise is important when you are trying to lose weight
- It’s an opportunity for you to release tension and stress, which can make you feel like eating more than you should. When you get a craving to raid the cookies in the kitchen cabinet, take the dog for a walk!
- You are a role model. According to expert dog trainer Cesar Millan, dogs easily adapt to human activities, including eating and exercise habits. People who have poor diets and are overweight tend to overfeed their dogs and not exercise them enough. You can be a role model and improve your health and that of your dog by adopting a regular exercise routine for both of you and improving your food intake.
- It can be inspiring. You may start out walking but soon find that your dog desires more—and perhaps you can accommodate her! You may be inspired to try more difficult or longer walks, upping the number of walks you do with your dog, or even jogging.
- It’s a motivator. Walking your dog is essential for his health, weight management, and stress reduction, too. Whenever you walk your dog, you are supporting his good health and building a special relationship with your four-legged friend.
Let’s talk about motivation for a moment. Most of us can identify with not feeling motivated to exercise at one time or another. In fact, lack of motivation is one of the main reasons why people stop an exercise program or even fail to begin one!
Having your own dog to walk—or perhaps someone else’s dog—is a great motivator. It’s a commitment you’ve made to your canine companion and one that can be fun, fulfilling, and weight reducing all at the same time.
Dog walking and exercise: a study
People who walk dogs enjoy a number of health benefits not shared by non-dog walkers. A study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health evaluated 399 dog owners who walked their dogs, 137 dog owners who did not, and 380 adults who did not have dogs.
Compared with people who walked their dogs, individuals in the other two groups reported less physical activity and a higher body mass index. Even after adjusting for age and moderate to high physical activity, people who did not own dogs had greater odds of self-reported diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression than respondents who regularly walked their dogs.
Overall, walking a dog seems to be better for physical health, including weight, and mental well-being. Perhaps it’s time to explore how your dog can help you lose weight.
Time to walk a dog!
For those of you who don’t have a dog, you can still benefit from dog walking. Most communities have an animal shelter, SPCA, Humane Society, or dog rescue organizations that would probably love to have you volunteer to walk their dogs. You would be doing the dogs, the organization, and yourself a huge favor.
It’s important to realize that some dogs require more exercise and physical activity than others, depending on their size, breed, age, and energy level. If you have a dog who needs more than, say, a 30 minute walk twice a day, you may want to include a game of fetch as often as possible an/or go to a dog park to help keep you both moving!
Cesar’s Way. Your dog can be the secret to weight loss
Lentino C et al. Dog walking is associated with a favorable risk profile independent of moderate to high volume of physical activity. Journal of Physical Activity & Health 2012 Mar; 9(3): 414-20