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Need Workout Motivation? Just Get a Dog, According to Research

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In the age of “if you didn’t Instagram your workout, did it really count?” fitness can feel like an all-or-nothing proposition—but it shouldn’t. Together with Michelob ULTRA—the next-level light beer that wants to take the stress out of staying fit—we’re exploring ways to be active that you’ll actually enjoy. Because being healthy doesn’t require fitness to be your whole life, just one (fun) part of it. 

The ideal workout buddy is someone who supports you unconditionally, who always looks on the bright side, and who knows how to lift you up, especially when the going gets tough. They even lick your face when you hit a fitness milestone—wait, what?

Let’s face it: We all know dogs make everything better. But what you might not know is that owning a dog has health benefits that stretch way beyond feeling limitless love and happiness. So when we teamed up with Michelob ULTRA—the light beer that’s all about finding the joy in wellness—it only seemed right that we unpack the wellness benefits of having a four-legged fit-friend. Because if there’s anything better than the feeling of completing a great workout, it’s spending time with your dog.

Keep reading for the science-approved health benefits of owning a dog, plus a pup-friendly workout to do with your four-legged friend.

owning a dog health benefits

Doctor doggo

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but according to research, it turns out that Fido might help, too. Findings from the CDC suggest that pets can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and this statement from the American Heart Association cites multiple studies that found pet owners to be at lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Struggle to hit your 10,000 steps for the day? Well, if you owned a dog, you have a built-in accountability buddy to encourage you to get stepping. Taking your dog for a walk (or jog if they’re up for it) is great for spending quality time together, but it’s also a research-backed way to get your respective heart rates up: This 2019 study from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that participants who walked dogs for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, for a year lost an average of 14 pounds.

And those are just some examples of the physical benefits. If you’re a dog owner, you know that having a canine friend can have a huge impact on your mental health as well. Aside from making you feel like the most important person in the world on a daily basis (cue the excitement every time you come home), research—like this 2011 study—has found that pet owners have a higher level of self-esteem, greater levels of fitness, and are less lonely than non-pet owners.

Plus, it’s hard to be stressed when you’re #blessed with a dog’s presence, even in the workplace. Research from VCU found that employees had decreased stress and increased job happiness with a doggo around.

How to turn your dog into an adorable personal trainer

Although the recommended amount of exercise varies depending on breed, age, and physical health, most dogs need to move, and so do you. If walking your dog around the block isn’t cutting it (or you’re just looking to add some dog-approved fun to your workout routine), here are a few tail-waggin’ workout ideas to get you moving together.

But before you get sweating, paws for a moment (had to). Just like people, not all workouts are a fit for all dogs. Short-snouted breeds, like bulldogs or pugs, have a harder time breathing than other dogs, so use your best judgement and consult your vet before trying a high-intensity activity like distance running or agility courses with your furry friend.

Ball burpees: Yep, it’s your least favorite workout combined with your dog’s absolute favorite. Next time you’re in an open space, chuck a ball for your dog to fetch, and complete as many burpees as you can in the time it takes him to bring the toy back.

Stair masters: Next time you pass a set of stairs on a walk, run up and down them for a few reps (but be careful—dogs tend to be quicker than us on stairs, so don’t trip over her!).

Hit the dog gym: If you’re up to try something new and exciting with your dog, check to see if there’s a Zoom Room or other agility course in your area. If you’ve ever watched dog agility on ESPN, you know those dog handlers are working hard to keep up with their four-legged athletes.

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Top photo: Stocksy/Bonninstudio

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