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Do You Want to Be Slimmer and Healthier? Walk the Dog

You’ve got the leash ready and your dog is sitting at the front door eager to go. You strap on the leash and swing the door open. It’s walky time – that time of the day to get out of the house, exercise and burn those unwanted kilos.

Nearly 40 per cent of households in Australia own a dog – that's about 3 million pet dogs. One study found that if all dog owners in Australia walked their dogs, the health benefits would be similar to giving up smoking. How can walking the dog help you?

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How Can Dog Walking Benefit You?

Walking the dog a few times a week helps you and your dog stay bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Here are a few ways how.
  • Burns calories, so help with weight loss and weight maintenance
  • Helps treat and prevent high blood pressure
  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Improves heart health
  • Lowers stress
Some experts estimate that the benefits of dog walking for health could be about $175 million a year in savings on health care and disease prevention.

A New South Wales study found 41 per cent of dog owners walk, on average, 18 minutes longer than people without dogs. Sadly, nearly 60 per cent of dog owners don’t walk their dogs at all; in fact, this group does less exercise than people without dogs! So you need to walk the dog often to get the benefits of walking.

How Can Walking the Dog Benefit Your Dog?

Do you want your dog to look great, have healthy joints and lots of energy? Dog walking can help. In fact regular dog walking can help prevent and treat:
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Heart disease and
  • Arthritis in your dog

What Are Some Tips for Walking Your Dog?

No one wants to step in dog poo when they are out and about. Keep in mind the following tips to keep you, your dog and others happy.
  • Take some plastic bags or a scoop to clean-up after your dog.
  • Keep your dog on a leash in public areas, unless it’s an “off-leash” zone. Find out the areas where dogs can be exercised off-leash.
  • Supervise your dog around young children.
  • Make sure your dog is easily identified.
  • Avoid walking in extreme heat.
  • Take fresh water for you and your dog to drink.
So if you’re a dog owner, walk your dog often to help you and your faithful companion stay alert and full of life. Aim for at least five 30-minute walks a week. If you don’t own a dog, consider whether getting a dog will fit in with your lifestyle, or walk a neighbour's or friend's dog.

References :

This article was compiled in consultation with experts and in reference to the following sources:

ABC, News in Science, 'Unleashing the benefits of dog-walking',

Bauman, A. et. al. 'The epidemiology of dog walking: an unmet need for human and canine health', The Medical Journal of Australia, 2001, 175: 632-634.

Better Health Channel, 'Dog walking - the health benefits',

Last updated: December 9th, 2008

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