If you’ve been shopping for equipment to create the best workout program you can find, you may not need to look any farther than the big drooling lump on your couch. That’s right, your dog could be the exercise buddy you’ve needed to really get the results you want.

This isn’t just the opinion of veterinarians who know that dogs that are regularly walked live longer, healthier and happier lives.  Recent research has shown that owning a dog really can be the best workout program you’ll maintain over the long term. As long as you’re dedicated to making sure your dog is stimulated, healthy and happy, you’ll automatically benefit, too.

Dog Ownership and Exercise Research

According to recent research, the average dog owner spends around 300 minutes per week walking dogs.  That’s about 200 minutes per week more than the average person who doesn’t own a dog. 200 minutes is nothing to laugh at and is enough to make a big difference in helping you to reach your fitness goals.

Another reason dog ownership is a part of the best workout program you can get is in meeting total activity guidelines.  If you own a dog, you’re four times more likely to meet the current recommended weekly fitness guidelines than someone who doesn’t own a dog. This, according to large-scale study data comparing dog ownership to exercise totals.

Dogs for the Best Workout Program

It’s important to point out that while dogs can be a part of the best workout program, they’re still living creatures. Research shows that they’re a component of a long-term active and healthy lifestyle in many cases. However, it’s important to get a dog for the right reasons.  You need to want everything else that comes with a dog, too, or it’s not fair to the dog. 

If you already want a dog and are looking to get the best workout program of your life, then you’re on the right track. However, if you haven’t considered the realities of dog ownership but want a dog because they’re cute and will make you walk more, you might want to keep writing that pros and cons list before making your final decision.

How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?

You’ve got a dog. You’ve got the will to walk.  At the same time, you need to remember that your walking needs and those of your pet may not align.  Understand the needs of your dog’s breed and his or her individual needs, too.  As a rule of thumb, all dogs should be walked at least once per day. It’s extremely important to their physical and mental health.

However, some breeds need multiple long and brisk walks every day. Others need a slow stroll to the mailbox on the corner and back.  It depends on your dog’s breed, age, and current physical fitness level.  Remember that your dog can be injured from a workout just like you can and can suffer from a lack of exercise like you can, too. Get in shape together at a pace that works for you both!