Benefits of working out with your four-legged best friend

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We know that exercise is good for us. It helps maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, sleep better and increase our energy level.

The great news is: It does the same for our dogs! Not only will exercise help them live longer, but incorporating an exercise program for you both strengthens your relationship, as well as the probability of living longer, happier and healthier lives.

Our dogs are our motivators for getting up, getting out and getting moving, and now research is supporting something we have known all along. A recent study from the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) shows dogs assist in reducing our obesity.

In fact, more than 20 million dog owners who walked their dogs five or more times a week show a lower incidence of obesity, resulting in health care cost savings of more than $418 billion dollars.

Another study showed that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week - that's nearly double the 168 minutes of walking that people without dogs usually do.

In addition, pets have been shown to reduce anxiety, provide companionship, physical touch, comfort, and decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.

Here are the top 10 benefits of working out with your dog:

1. Our best friends reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Research shows that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without a dog.

2. Our canine friends provide us with companionship, which can lessen feelings of loneliness and foster enhanced social interaction with others. And who can't resist a wagging tail? They help you meet new people.

3. Dogs motivate us, encourage and increase the owner's exercise and playfulness. Exercising with their dog helps to increase motivation, vitality and joy in their owner's lives.

4. People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without dogs. Studies have shown that human blood pressure levels can, over time, decline significantly in those who adopt dogs from a shelter.

5. Playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which can provide a calming and relaxing feeling in its owner.

6. Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets. Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.

7. Physical activity with their dogs provides overweight dog owners with a lessened sense of social insecurity and greater self-worth.

8. Dog owners age 65 and over make 30% fewer doctor visits than those in the same age category who do not own dogs.

9. Dog ownership adds structure, routine and accountability in the owner's daily life.

10. Adding a 30-minute workout with your dog can burn up to 300 calories an hour.

There are unique and combined benefits for both human and canine that improve the quality of life, reduce and slow the impacts of aging.

What are you waiting for? Grab your dog, get moving and get ready for your new leash on life!

Tricia Montgomery is founder and CEO of K9 Fit Club, with locations across the U.S., including Bluffton.

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Health & Wellness
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