Walking your dog, it turns out, counts as legitimate exercise—the kind that will help you live longer. Dogs really are man’s best friend.
A new study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, suggests that dog owners walk an average of 22 more minutes per day compared to those who don’t own a dog. Walking doesn’t exactly carry the health benefits of, say, high-intensity interval training, but it is still pretty darn good for you. According to University of Lincoln professor Daniel Mills, an author on the study, the level of exercise shown by dog owners was more than a leisurely stroll. It seems people walk a little faster when they’re being towed along by their furry friends in search of great spots to pee.
Study participants saw their hearts go up during each walk and reached paces of about three miles per hour, which is considered moderate intensity by the CDC. That means walking your dog each day for the average of 22 minutes at a moderate pace surpasses the recommended physical activity requirements of 150 minutes every week. Walking is actually almost as healthy as running, especially when it comes to lowering your risk of high blood pressure or cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and other conditions, so dogs really can be a life-saver.
Obviously, sticking your dog in the back yard and never walking it negates any healthy benefits. But if you’re in need of motivation to get up and move, adopting a dog might just be the ticket if you’re willing make an effort to walk it every single day. As if you needed another reason to get a dog…