It’s official – dog owners in the UK are fitter and healthier than people without dogs, according to a new study.
Research indicates that people who own a dog are likely to exercise at least three times more a week than the rest of the nation, as they walk or run for an average of 74 minutes every day, in addition to their normal exercise.
In the process, dog owners will cover an average distance of 1092 miles a year on foot, compared to the 364 miles walked by those who don’t have a one.
The research found that not only did owning a dog affect the amount of walking a person does, but also that dog walkers were more active overall.
As well as walking around the neighbourhood daily, it emerged dog owners are more likely to walk than drive anywhere, more likely to take the stairs than the lift, and are generally always on their feet.
In contrast, people who don’t own a dog only keep fit twice a week, and walk for just 18 minutes a day.
A resounding 73 per cent of owners say they love the fact they manage to get so much exercise now they own a dog, with the majority feeling fitter, healthier and more energetic since owning a dog, and not just in body, but in spirit too.
One in three dog owners said walking their dogs allowed them to de-stress after work, and a quarter felt it helped them to escape their busy schedules.
A spokeswoman for Butcher’s Pet Care, which commissioned the research into 2,000 dog owners, said: “It’s fantastic that owners and their dogs involved in our research are so fit and healthy with the majority going for walks at least twice a day, and this is having a positive impact on their owner’s health which is great to see.
“We know dog owners will walk far more than the average adult, as exercising their dog becomes part of their daily routine. Rather than relaxing in the garden dog owners are likely to be running around playing, and instead of nipping down the corner shop in the car, they’ll put the dog on the lead and walk.
“There are also some great social aspects to owning a dog, such as chatting with other owners when out walking – almost one in ten surveyed said they had met one of their closest friends walking their dog.
“Overall it’s safe to say that dog owners are generally more active and spend more time up and about than those people who don’t have a dog to look after – it’s a really great lifestyle choice!”
The poll reveals the average owner spends 58 minutes a day walking with the dog – which equates to approximately 3 miles a day and 21 miles over the course of one week.
This means dog lovers are walking an incredible 351 hours a year, covering a distance of 1092 miles.
In addition to miles walked, owners are chasing their dog around the garden for 16 minutes every day, that’s 97 hours every year.
And the average dog owner also goes for a jog with their dog between two and three times a week for good measure.
Researchers discovered the bigger the breed of the dog, the fitter dog owners were too, with Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs and Boxers needing the most number of walks per day.
A fifth of dog owners like the fact they get to meet and bump into other people when out and about, while a third make the most of the only fresh air they’ll get during the day.
Interestingly, one in 10 people will happily use walking the dog as an excuse to avoid a nagging partner, while one in 20 use the time to catch-up on the phone with their mum or dad.
A quarter of people polled like dog walking as they can escape a hectic schedule and 14 per cent say it is good to get technology-free time.
Some lucky dogs don’t just benefit from walks with their owner – the study indicated one in 10 dogs attend group walking classes, while six per cent go to agility classes.
Four per cent of dogs go to doga – the practise of yoga for dogs.
The Butcher’s Pet Care Spokeswoman continues: “Decades ago, owners very rarely needed to walk their dog as they were often just let out into the garden or roamed the local area freely, but times have changed! It is now up to the owners to keep their dogs fit and due to this their fitness levels have increased too.
“We carried out the research to highlight the many benefits of owning a dog and we hope that it will encourage more dog owners to focus on the health of their pets which includes taking them on regular walks, but also feeding them a natural, meat based and wholesome diet, as the two go hand in hand.”
BREAKDOWN OF STATISTICS
58 minutes walking with the dog
16 minutes running around the garden with the dog
Dog owners – walk / run for total of 74 minutes each day excluding normal exercise, averaging 3 miles
3 miles x 7 days = 21 miles a week
21 miles x 52 weeks = 1092 miles a year
Non dog owners – walk / run for total of 18 minutes each day excluding normal exercise, averaging 1 mile
1 mile x 7 days = 7 miles a week
7 miles x 52 weeks = 364 miles a year