10 Ways a Puppy Improves Your Health

by Kate Zimmerman for SHAPE.com

Thinking of getting a dog? We have 10 healthy reasons why you should!Thinking of getting a dog? We have 10 healthy reasons why you should!In case you're debating, we've found 10 research-backed reasons why you should get a dog!

1. Dogs get you moving: A March 2011 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions. Researchers at Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week than non-dog owners.

2. …And keep you going: The same study from Michigan State found that owning a pet dog promotes health and fitness even after you take your pup for a stroll, increasing leisure-time physical activity by 69 percent.

3. Dogs push you to the next level: A University of Missouri study found that walking with a puppy dog leads to a 28 percent increase in walking speed, compared to a 4 percent increase found with a human walking buddy.

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4. Dogs don't accept excuses: People who walk with dogs are more likely to stick to their fitness plans than those who walk with humans or alone, according to researchers at the University of Missouri.

5. Dogs ease the road to recovery: Your furry friend is there for you in good times and bad. A study from the National Institutes of Health found dog owners had a better one-year survival rate following a heart attack than non-dog owners.

6. They might lower your risk of obesity: Dog owners who walk their dogs regularly have one-third the risk of diabetes than those who don't own and walk a dog, according to exercise scientist Cindy Lentino.

7. It's good for the whole family: A study from the University of Virginia found that teens from dog-owning families are more physically active than teens whose families don't own a pet dog, clocking an extra 15 minutes of exercise each week.

8. Fewer trips to the doctor's office: Dog owners require 20 percent less medical care than non-dog owners, according to a UCLA study among the elderly.

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9. They improve your people skills: Researchers at Central Michigan University found that when a dog is present in a collaborative group setting, group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion, and intimacy.

10. Dogs provide preventative healthcare: Scientist from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that children from families with a history of allergies are less likely to develop eczema if they grow up with a pet dog starting at birth.

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