Don’t have the motivation to get moving at the gym, put down your car keys and take Fido for a walk; a University of Missouri-Columbia study shows it could be just as beneficial! Taking over the family dog walking duties may have you seeing weight loss that rivals what you could achieve through a gym’s fitness program. Walking the dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week produced an average weight loss of 14 pounds for participants in the yearlong study. Our Paleolithic ancestors exerted themselves daily to secure their food, water, and protection (modern day Paleo’s can feel good about walking/hiking/moving for 3-15 miles per day or 3-5+ hours per week). Although modern technology has made physical exertion optional, it is still important to exercise as though our survival depended on it, and in a different way it still does. We are genetically adapted to live an extremely physically active lifestyle. A sedentary existence predisposes us to obesity, hypertension, the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and most types of cardiovascular disease, whereas regular exercise decreases the risks of developing all these diseases.
The University of Missouri-Columbia study also showed that people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion. The commitment to the dog enforces faithfulness to a simple exercise program. "Many of them told us that they didn’t necessarily walk because they knew it was good for their health; they enjoyed walking because they knew it was good for the animals," researcher Rebecca Johnson said. The dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the human walkers began making excuses to skip the workout. The human companions often discourage each other from walking with excuses like the weather, dog companions never gave any discouragement and the commitment to their wellbeing was the difference between weight loss and indifference. Don't use excuses! If you can only walk around the block once before your next appointment or you have to go pick up the kids, go do it- GET OUT THERE AND MOVE!