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6 legs are better than 2

If you want to boost your activity level, lose weight, and have a great time doing it…a dog may be your answer.
Robert Kushner, professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, co-authored a study looking into the effects of dog ownership on activity level…and subsequently, weight loss. Two groups were observed: one group of obese adults with obese dogs and one group of obese adults without dogs. After a year, those with dogs had lost weight — 4.7% of their body weight, or roughly 11 pounds. Similarly, the dogs shed (pun intended) 12 pounds, accounting for an average loss of 15% of their body weight [1].
Those dogs participating in the study were fed a calorie-controlled diet while their owners received dietary counseling and were encouraged to walk at least three times a week for 30 minutes [1]. An easy goal to reach with a 4-legger around, I’d say.
Most importantly, however, is the sustainability of activity that goes along with dog ownership. Dogs can be used for not only great companionship, but also motivation to stick with a diet and exercise plan long-term. Plus, it’s more enjoyable than going alone – all huge keys to permanent lifestyle behavior changes such as the incorporation of exercise.
On a side note: Bulldogs may not be your best bet when looking for a weight-loss companion. Our Lily (AKA “Wrinkle Butt”) made it to the end of the block last night with just enough energy reserves left to watch Molly, the black lab mix, run guns-a-blazin’ after her ball…incessantly….for the better part of a half-hour. And somehow the walk home was still taxing on our little bundle of laziness. Must be that Oklahoma heat, right? Guess I’ll need to utilize that YMCA membership as my companion needs as much help as I do to maintain an exercise regimen!
[1]. Need a Walking Partner? Try a Dog. Medline Plus. June 11, 2009.
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