The title is a famous dictum from esteemed Dr. Osler. Studies show this to be true, as reports the NY Times:
Just last week, researchers from Michigan State University reported that among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise. Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.
Now, why is a dog better than a spouse?
In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted-living home, some people selected a friend or spouse as a walking companion, while others took a bus daily to a local animal shelter, where they were assigned a dog to walk.
To the surprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a much greater improvement in fitness. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just 4 percent among the human walkers.
Dr. Johnson, the study’s lead author, said that human walkers often complained about the heat and talked each other out of exercise, but that people who were paired with dogs didn’t make those excuses.
“They help themselves by helping the dog,” said Dr. Johnson, co-author of the new book “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound,” to be published in May by Purdue University Press. “If we’re committed to a dog, it enables us to commit to physical activity ourselves.”