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The Benefits of Exercise for Dogs and Their People

Photo: Courtesy of Cas Holmes

Fitness is important for both dogs and people. Nearly 40% of adults are obese, 70% are overweight, and more than 50% of dogs are clinically overweight or obese.

The extraordinary benefits of exercise apply to everyone, including both dogs and people. Specifically, exercise increases cardiovascular endurance, and improves muscular strength and power. Exercise increases flexibility, balance, and speed, and improves body composition.

Exercise has been shown to be good for muscles and bones and a regular exercise regimen can reduce the risk of chronic disease. Research clearly shows that when paired with an appropriate diet, exercise is a key component of effectively managing ongoing health problems such as diabetes. 

the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends walking, one of the safest forms of exercise, as ideal. In the AKC FIT DOG program, using the AHA’s guidelines, owners and their dogs walk at least 150 minutes per week in approximately 30-minute sessions. Owners often report that within a matter of weeks, they saw a difference in their dog’s behavior and health, and some owners report they were surprised to see their own unexpected weight losses “just from walking.”

exercise both increases energy, while resulting in good sleep at night, and improved relaxation during the day. Exercise can reduce pain, as well as decrease stress and anxiety in both dogs and people. For dogs, exercise is often an important, recommended tool in treating behavioral issues such as overly active behavior, separation anxiety, or destruction of objects and property when the owner is not at home. 

If there is a downside to exercise for humans, it is that exercise routines are hard to maintain. Many people who purchase gym memberships stop going to the gym within several weeks, and a large percentage of those well-intended people are gone from the gym within 5 months. Exercise buddies are often recommended to keep people motivated when it comes to exercise. As it turns out, one of the best exercise buddies a person can have is their dog. Dogs enjoy walking and it is impossibly hard to resist an enthusiastic canine prompt to go for a walk.

Shown to increase the life spans of both people and dogs, the substantial benefits of exercise are many. Exercise clearly helps canines and their human family members live longer, fuller lives, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

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