The New Miracle Diet: Own a Dog

Exercise equipment overpriced and underused? Gym membership nonexistent? Maybe you are fed up with investing mindless hours spent on a cardio-machine staring at the time ticker (how painful) or a TV with a Kardashian show re-run on. Unfortunately, most of us regular people will not be able to keep up this type of exercise routine on a consistent basis. For some, even getting off the couch is a starting-point. In this blog post, I will introduce a new miracle diet that does require commitment, but is guaranteed to work.

Let us begin with the premise that walking is the number one leading health benefit: helping to minimize risk factors, preventing disability and maintaining body functions, and reducing depression and anxiety. Studies show the benefits of human-animal interaction. Pet attachment has been associated with lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, greater likelihood of a healthy, more social lifestyle including exercise, improved survival rate among those with heart disease, decreased depression and improved morale. The state of Missouri has a rapidly increasing number of economically disadvantaged older adults who rely on Medicare and Medicaid for health care. Many chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, do not qualify for physical therapy. HealthyPeople.gov identifies that inactivity is linked to the progression of devastating, costly chronic illnesses in elders. That’s where the Walking for Healthy Hearts Dog Walk program came into being as a low-cost, win-win alternative to physical therapy while helping dogs at the same time. #winning

So let’s get to it! Myself or virtually any dog owner could assure you, owning a dog will undoubtedly make you a happier person in general. I want to take it further by showing how dog ownership gives you a long-term solution to getting off your couch, out of the house, and enjoying a brisk walk around the neighborhood or in nature, the good old-fashioned way! Now, i don’t think we need a scientific study to prove my belief re: dog ownership increasing exercise, but out of respect for the academic community, allow me to proceed with some scientific proof.

So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Does owning a dog encourage regular activity or are active, healthy people simply more likely to acquire dogs as walking companions?

Well, in a 2008 study that came out of the University of Western Australia, the results of this study suggest that “dog acquisition leads to a significant increase in recreational walking”. One of the reasons for this is that acquiring a dog is coupled with a responsibility to care for the health and well-being of that dog. Basic care for a dog includes providing food, water, shelter and exercise. The study supports the assertion that it is likely that through a person’s sense of responsibility to care for their dog, cognitive beliefs about providing a safe and healthy environment for a dog may positively influence an individual’s intention to walk.

Whether or not people were previously more active or not, the researchers found that one of the motivations for getting a dog was a desire to get more exercise. Before getting a dog, the new dog owners had clocked about 89 minutes of weekly walking, but dog ownership boosted that number to 130 minutes a week. Overall, dog ownership increased average walking by about 30 minutes a week, compared with those who didn

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