December 20, 2009
Dogs Better Than Human Walking Companions

No surprise here. Oh, and cats aren't getting you any exercise.

Is it better to walk a human or to walk a dog?

New research from the University of Missouri has found 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. In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted living home, 35 people were assigned to a walking program for five days a week, while the remaining 19 served as a control group. Among the walkers, 23 selected a friend or spouse to serve as a regular walking partner along a trail laid out near the home. Another 12 participants took a bus daily to a local animal shelter where they were assigned a dog to walk.

Click thru to read the details. Suffice to say, dogs rule.

Speaking as someone whose late, great, and much missed Australian Shepherd served as my personal trainer this result comes as no surprise. You walk in the door after work and that dog knows what you should do next. Get your ass in gear and lets start running up the road to a park. Been home for a few hours continuously? Time for another work-out. Come on. Can't you see how important this is?

Friends are just going to take turns flaking out on each other. Dogs just love that exercise far too much and can't imagine how something else could possibly be more important. Dogs are good for humans.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 20 12:01 PM  Aging Exercise Studies

Kudzu Bob said at December 20, 2009 10:48 PM:

Everybody should get a dog. Except for the Koreans, of course.

Nick G said at December 21, 2009 9:12 AM:

Yes, dogs are very good for humans.

Also, have you noticed how good dogs are at stretching? They wake up, and do an elaborate set of stretches, first one way, then the other, and back again. They're very good role models.

Ridolph said at December 21, 2009 2:49 PM:

Cats are actually much better at stretching. And if you're going to do Pilates, definitely a cat will help. A dog will just sit around wondering why you're wasting time.

CCMCornell said at December 21, 2009 2:57 PM:

Yes, yes - avoiding dog crap in your house is an effective motivator to walk with your dog.

Ross said at December 21, 2009 3:19 PM:

Kudzu Bob,
Dogs are good for Koreans as well. But Koreans are not good for dogs.

Jonathan said at December 21, 2009 3:39 PM:

Another plus: No ordinance requires that you clean up after your human companion.

wolfwalker said at December 21, 2009 3:45 PM:

"late, great, and much missed Australian Shepherd"

Oh, well, that explains it. Aussies aren't dogs. They're perpetual-motion machines with four legs and fur. Infinite energy. No one has ever tired an Aussie out, or ever will. Try this exercise-routine stuff with a Basset or a Bullmastiff, and see how long it lasts.


(and my sympathies on how much you miss your furry friend -- I remember 'em all, and miss 'em all, even the ones that went to their next incarnation many years ago)

comatus said at December 21, 2009 4:33 PM:

"They're very good role models."
--Wish I could do that.
--Well pet him, maybe he'll let ya.

Mike said at December 21, 2009 4:37 PM:

Lost my Aussie, Mick, in July. He was 17 years old, and walked with me every day, until the day before he passed in his sleep.

When he was younger, he insisted on joining me during my daily 5-mile rollerblading trips through the village I live in. It never mattered how worn out he was when we got home, he was always ready to go again the next day.

God bless you, Mick, as you were truly a blessing to me.

chispito said at December 21, 2009 4:38 PM:

All dogs like to be walked--even basset hounds. I grew up with one, and I watched another for a few weeks.

Seppo said at December 21, 2009 5:28 PM:

German Shorthaired Pointer. Clean, loving, wonderful dogs. Enormous energy and endurance, and quite insistent on having their exercise. Mine made me buy this farmhouse and renovate it, so we could live surrounded by hundreds of acres of fields, fencerows, and woods. Three to five hours a day, most of that time running loose in the fields, but during the darker times of the year a substantial amount of leash walking in the dark along the country road instead. I don't dare miss a day, he's a great coach in that respect.

As a result I walk a minimum of eight miles every day, often twice that. My companion has the time of his life, gets the hunting he was bred for, and becomes the sweetest indoor buddy imaginable once he has his exercise. I get to eat all my favorite goodies and not worry about my weight, and enjoy the wildlife and beautiful scenery of the surrounding countryside. And meeting other people with Shorthairs is a treat, they tend to be cheerful, active, decent folks.

Bob Badour said at December 21, 2009 5:41 PM:
No one has ever tired an Aussie out, or ever will.

That's not entirely true. I have 3 aussies. If you want to tire an aussie out, get another aussie. ;) And make sure they have lots of space--mine have a 4 acre run.

Mind you, they don't tire out for very long. Plenty of water and a power nap--maybe a bit of kibble--and they are ready to go again.

kenny komodoa said at December 21, 2009 6:12 PM:

My ten year old German Shepherd has been my constant walking companion for as long as he's been part of our family. He's a bit slower now, his hips bother him a bit but that doesn't stop him from wanting to go out and walk regardless of the weather. Matter of fact he seems to enjoy cold snowy days more then any other. He loves to romp in the snow. I bury his favorite squeaky ball in a big mound of snow and he just loves diving in and finding it. Oh and for the crack about Koreans and dogs? I lived in Korea for 7 years. Never did eat a dog, never even met a Korean family who would eat a dog. Maybe they did 100 years ago when poverty was the rule and not the exception. And they probably do in North Korea as well, that is when they're not eating dead relatives in that communist paradise. Dogs rule, cats drool. Peace.

Jawn said at December 21, 2009 6:36 PM:

Got a Malamute who walks me every night after work. When I come home for lunch he may lift his head and look at me like "Oh, its you". But after work he knows what time it is. So my wife decided that we needed another sled dog when we went to Caanada. Snowny Owl sled tours in Canmore, Alberta let's you adopt dogs when they are ready to retire. I told my wife she might as well chain me to the back of the truck and pull me down the road. Anyway, Chricket is a husky mix and the two of them give me a nice upper body workout as well as a good walk.

john said at December 21, 2009 6:37 PM:

When I take my two dogs for a walk, invariably the cat comes with us.

Mitch said at December 21, 2009 10:12 PM:

Well then, I'm the ideal human walking companion: if you don't get off your butt and walk with me, I'll crap over your keyboard! :-)

bandit said at December 22, 2009 5:08 AM:

Not to mention dogs can only talk in dog. I had 2 sibes for 14 yrs - it is impossible for a human to walk them far enough and fast enough to tire them out even when they get very old. When my kids were younger I hooked up a sled and would take them and one of the neighborhood kids thru the woods on the sled. Even when they were pulling the sled you'd get tired out first.

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