Don't want to spend money on a diet program? Take over the family dog walking duties and you may see weight loss that rivals what you could achieve through a program. Walking the dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week produced an average weight loss of 14 pounds for participants in a University of Missouri-Columbia study.
Lose Weight Walking Your Dog 20 Minutes a Day
Study participants were economically disadvantaged and disabled, people who were not regular walkers. They began by walking loaner dogs 10 minutes per day, three times each week. Eventually, the participants walked up to 20 minutes per day, five times each week. Those who followed this program for 50 weeks lost an average of 14 pounds.
Sticking with it mattered - those who walked only 26 weeks didn't see significant weight loss."Even though we didn’t see a significant amount of weight loss in the group that walked for a shorter period of time, by the end of the study, all the participants were walking for longer periods of time and walking for daily errands instead of using some other type of transportation," said researcher Rebecca Johnson in a press release.
Dogs Keep You Faithful to ExerciseWalking a dog can make the difference between getting out and walking and deciding to skip it for the day. The commitment to the dog enforces faithfulness to a simple exercise program. "Many of them told us that they didn’t necessarily walk in the study because they knew it was good for their health; they enjoyed walking because they knew it was good for the animals," said researcher Rebecca Johnson in a press release.
Proof of Effectiveness of Simple Walking for Weight Loss
Walking with a dog is often fairly slow strolling, and this study used participants who were new to walking for exercise. The good results seen for those who stuck with the program for a year shows the effectiveness of simple regular walking for weight control and lifestyle change. Beyond the 20 minutes they spent walking, researchers reported that they began adding more activity into their lives. These extra steps beyond the 20 minutes of dog walking are probably a large factor in their continued weight loss. Some adopted dogs themselves or began volunteering to walk dogs at the local dog shelter.
SOURCE: University of Missouri-Columbia, news release, October 2005