Walking a Dog: It Helped Me Be More Active and Lose Weight

Walking a Dog – Helped to Lose Weight

Dear Dr. Mahler: I am 79 years old and was hospitalized last month for a flare-up of COPD. Usually I have 1-2 episodes of bronchitis during the winter and need an antibiotic and prednisone. I usually get short of breath clearing snow off of my car and drying off my dog when he gets wet from rolling in the snow. The reason that I am writing is to share my “secret” for losing weight.  I live alone in a trailer, but last May I got a dog for company and activity. He wants to go out at least 6 times a day, and I need to walk him with a lease. There isn’t enough space for him to run around in my small yard. To care for my dog, I walk several times a day, up to 20 min at a time. Although I had not planned on this, I have lost 18 pounds since last May. I feel so much better being more active and it is easier to breathe losing my belly fat. Please share my experience walking a dog with your readers. Sally from Bennington, VT Dear Sally, Many thanks for you note. Congrats on losing 18 pounds and make sure to give your dog a treat for helping you lose weight.
Woman walking a dog

Woman walking her dog

Here is some information about walking a dog and health benefits. In general, dog owners get twice as much exercise as those who do not have a dog. One survey reported that on average dog owners walked with their dog 24 minutes twice a day which adds up to 5 hours and 36 minutes a week. Studies show that those who walk their dog have the following health benefits:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased mental attitude and sharpness
  • A lower risk of heart disease
The amount of exercise required for your dog will vary depending upon their breed and energy. Your dog can be a great incentive to get outside. Here are some suggestions for those who have dogs. Set a daily routine with your dog. Try to walk at the same time each day. Also, find a dog park for fun and variety. Sally – thanks again for your email. Hopefully, your experience will help others have a new friend and find a way to lose weight. Best wishes, Donald A. Mahler, M.D.  

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.