Not everybody can or wants to own a dog. But, getting one could add years to your life.
The fact is, dog owners are 34 percent more likely to get the exercise they need to stay healthy than people who don't have dogs.
Research shows that people with dogs get more than two hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week -- mostly from walking. That's how much physical activity experts say everyone should get to lower their risk of illnesses ranging from heart disease to diabetes.
Stephanie Johnson heads up the Louisiana State University vet school's pet therapy program. She's not surprised that people with dogs exercise more. She says her dad and his dog are a perfect example.
"There's a certain time every day when she will bug him until he gets up and grabs a leash and takes her on a walk," she says.
Johnson says these findings just add to the mounting evidence that pets can be good for you. Before-and-after tests have already shown that people have an immediate improvement in their health profile after interacting with animals.
"Their heart rates are lower, their blood pressure is lower," Johnson explains.
Researchers say that people who own dogs not only walk more, they're also more likely to get a good work out just playing with them. Not to mention, good companionship.
Any pet can have a therapeutic effect. It just so happens that dogs are more than man's best friend -- they can also be their personal trainers!
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