How your dog can make you healthier

More than just a cuddle companion, your dog can benefit your health. Here's how your favourite pet does more than just comfort

By Lisa Hannam

How your dog can make you healthier

Your dog can motivate you to be mentally and physically healthier, says Minneapolis, Minn.-based journalist Martin Kihn. In his new book Bad Dog (A Love Story), he says his Bernese mountain dog, Hola, taught him to be responsible and set goals, gave him hope and ultimately made him quit drinking. Every morning at 6 a.m., Hola would push Kihn out of bed to get him to his AA meeting. "Her intuitiveness is truly amazing."

Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are 34 percent likelier to be more active than those who don't have a dog.

Here's more proof your "best friend" can make you healthier:

• A study from the University of Western Australia found that people with dogs walked about 30 minutes more a week than non-dog owners.

Teens with dogs get about 32 minutes of physical activity a day, reports the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

• A one-year study from the University of Guelph found that having a pet around had a positive effect on the physical health of those age 65 and older.

• When people who didn't own dogs signed up for a dog-walking program, they lost 14 pounds in about a year, says a University of Missouri-Columbia study.

• In addition to walks to the park, it seems people are more likely to participate in outdoor recreational physical activities if they have a dog, shows a study from BMC Public Health.

Thanks, pal!

This article was originally titled "The dogtor is in" in the Summer 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience–and never miss an issue!

Best Health Magazine, Summer 2011

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