When Jacqueline Epping first told her colleagues she was interested in using dog walking to promote health, they weren’t always on board.
But in the past decade, a growing body of literature shows a strong relationship between dog walking and health.
“Dogs can and do increase physical activity, and we even see some secondary health benefits,” Epping said.Most of us who have a dog are aware of the mental health benefits they offer. Dogs regularly make appearances in hospitals and other places to brighten up people's lives. But it is good to know that there is an even longer list of health benefits with which they are associated. In the war against obesity, for example, they may be an important medicine.
The body of knowledge around dog walking is “relatively young,” she said, but there is a “robust body of evidence” as to the health benefits of pets, including lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced stress, improved mental health, speedier recovery, increased longevity after a heart attack and improved quality of life among older adults, just to name a few.