Fitness & ExerciseHealth & Beauty

The Dog-Walking Diet: Walk Your Dog… Lose Weight! (The Johnson Dog Walking Study)

Alright… this time I’m doing it!

My chiropractor has been nagging me to do more walking. Now, I really will.

It’s been proven that dog walking is more effective than dieting. And maybe even better than going to the gym!

Walking the dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week produced an average weight loss of 14 pounds for participants in a University of Missouri-Columbia study.

I LOVE that! I mean… who doesn’t love that?!

It’s refreshing (and motivating) to think that they just might be onto something here.

Health Benefits From Walking A Dog

The health benefits of owning a dog have long been understood:

  • Dogs lower your blood pressure.
  • Dogs increase your mental attitude and sharpness.
  • Dogs lower your risk of heart disease.

However, this is the first time that the benefits of walking a dog have officially been proven.

I just want to say thanks to the University of Missouri-Columbia for studying the effects of walking your dog on your overall health!

The result: some heart-healthy news you can use, sealed with a big wet kiss.

Walking my dog in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN

Dog Walking Study Findings

Rebecca Johnson, who led the dog walking study for University of Missouri-Columbia, is an associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction.

She said that her next study will reveal the benefits of taking an animal to the gym. Gym workouts are necessary to address aspects of fitness not captured by walking — like strength and flexibility training.

Johnson believes that animals provide support — increasing your self-esteem and self-confidence, while increasing group exercise participation.


Here are the detailed results from Johnson’s dog walking study:

  • “Researchers said the participants began the program by walking 10 minutes per day, 3 times each week. Eventually, the participants walked up to 20 minutes per day, 5 times each week. During rainy days, the participants walked an inside route.”
  • “The first first group walked for 50 weeks, and the second group walked for only 26 weeks. Johnson found that the first group averaged a weight loss of 14 pounds, a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans report.”
  • “Even though we didn’t see a significant amount of weight loss in the group that walked for a shorter period of time, by the end of the study, all the participants were walking for longer periods of time and walking for daily errands instead of using some other type of transportation.”
  • “Some participants in our Walking for Healthy Hearts program have lost as much as 30 pounds since we began 6 months ago.”

And in yet another dog-walking study, it was determined:

  • “If all dog owners would just walk their pet for at least 150 minutes per week the percentage of the population doing sufficient physical activity would increase from 47% to 71%. Such an increase would be much greater than most of the broad national campaigns designed to promote physical activity.”
  • In 1 day, 58.9% of dog walkers took 2 or more walks. 80.2% took at least 1 walk of 10 minutes or more. And 42.3% accumulated 30 minutes or more from walks lasting at least 10 minutes each. There were no significant differences by sex, family income, or categories of urbanization.”

How Your Dog Benefits From Regular Walking


By the way, here’s how your dog benefits from walking:

  • Keeps your dog healthy.
  • Helps your dog maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improves your dog’s digestive system.
  • Reduces your dog’s destructive behavior.
  • Makes your dog less hyper.
  • Eliminates your dog’s attention-seeking behaviors.
  • Builds the trust your dog has for you.
  • Enhances the bond between you and your dog.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to buy any special gear or equipment to walk your dog — just a leash and a harness. And 10 to 15 minutes of walking 3 to 5 days a week is the only thing you need to commit to!

Interestingly, when I asked my oh-so-fit chiropractor why he chooses walking, rather than running as exercise, he said (paraphrased):

…Because you get the same healthy return from running no matter how much of it you do — 3 miles or 15 miles. Whereas with walking, there’s no plateau. The more you walk, the more the healthy effects impact your body… so it’s more motivating to keep increasing the amount you walk and the speed with which you walk.

Which, I guess, makes it seem less like exercise and more like a personal challenge — in addition to the immediate reward.

So, there’s no excuse anymore. Let’s get out there and walk our dogs!

Other Dog Walking Diet Studies & Facts

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See how much you need to walk your dog to lose weight!