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Walk a Dog, Lose Weight

Study found those who walked one for a year lost average of 14 pounds

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Letting yourself go to the dogs may help you lose weight.

A University of Missouri-Columbia study says that having a dog can help people get more exercise and lose weight.

"Our goal was to look for ways to increase the average exercise regimen, and we found being responsible for a pet, such as committing to walk a loaner dog, encouraged people who did not own dogs to walk more often and for longer periods of time. Our first study group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds during the one-year program," researcher Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, said in a prepared statement.

That 14 pounds of weight loss over a year is better than results reported by major weight-loss plans, Johnson noted.

The study included disadvantaged, disabled people who were encouraged to walk dogs on a regular schedule. The participants began by walking with the dogs 10 minutes per day, three times a week, and eventually walked the dogs up to 20 minutes per day, five times a week.

Johnson's next study will involve people taking pets to the gym to see if the presence of pets as support companions can increase a person's self-esteem and get them to do other exercises along with walking.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about walking.

SOURCE: University of Missouri-Columbia, news release, October 2005


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