The Sad Reasons Why People Don’t Walk Their Dogs

A new study sheds light on pets and owners

Dogs and walking. You might as well say ketchup and mustard. People often believe that people with dogs always walk them. You exercise the canine in the family, and they, in turn, exercise you, right?

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However, sometimes dog owners don’t quite live up to this standard. We know walking our dog is the right thing to do, and we assume other dog owners are doing it. But maybe it’s storming, or we worked late; we’re especially tired, and we end up on the couch.

Double down on walking goals

But despite the best of intentions, a new study of 50,000 pet owners finds that almost 50 percent aren’t walking their dogs regularly.

“It’s a missed opportunity that hopefully will inspire people to double down on their walking goals,” says Michael Roizen, MD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

A closer look at the results shows factors that made dog walking less likely. “The people who didn’t walk their dogs regularly were generally more obese and older. Or, they had dogs who were older, obese or small,” he says.

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Keep moving even if your dog stops

Previous research has shown that dog walkers are more likely than other people to get regular exercise into their week. But it seems to take extra effort to do this on a regular basis.

“Unfortunately, not walking your dog can mean not reaping the health benefits of owning one. This includes lowering your blood pressure,” Dr. Roizen says.

Even when you do walk your dog, keep in mind that to get the health benefits, you may need to put in some extra steps — particularly if your dog stops frequently to sniff trees and grass.

“You probably want to think of an hour of dog walking as a half hour of steps,” he says. But one way to offset this is to keep moving, even when your dog stops. “Walk in place or in circles around your dog when he stops to check things out,” Dr. Roizen says.

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Make time for your own health

What’s important is that you get movement and exercise into your day.

“Whether you’ve got a big dog, a small dog, a fat dog, whatever kind of dog you’ve got, even if you don’t have one, walk your dog,” Dr. Roizen jokes. “What can you do if you don’t have a dog? Go to the park and walk your friend.”

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