Health Beat: Dogs Helping People Get Fit

Green and Gem out for a walk together in the neighborhood.

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Owning a dog – known as man’s best friend – has been proven to promote a healthier lifestyle. Philadelphia has 15 dog parks for owners and their pups to go for a stroll and get fresh air.

Since adopting his dog Gem over a year ago, Michael Green, 26, said Gem has helped him to live a healthier life by walking multiple times a day and playing at parks.

Green claims that his dog Gem has helped him live a healthier lifestyle.
Green claimed his dog Gem has helped him live a healthier lifestyle.

“Walking my dog promotes me to go outside every day. Without her, I’d be on my computer or inside like most people,” Green said.

Green admits he’s not used to taking care of an animal, but the process has helped him to get outside and engage in physical activity, limiting computer and television use.

“I don’t have a backyard for my dog so I have to walk her. She helps me get the exercise I need and we help each other out. Living in Philadelphia, there’s no yard so I’m committed to taking her out. I’m not just walking her, I’m walking myself too,” Green said.

Green petting his dog Gem on their street in Roxborough.
Green pet his dog Gem on their street in Roxborough.

Using house pets as exercise motivation could help move the city toward a healthier life approach. According to new research conducted by Michigan State University, people who walk their dogs were 34 percent more likely to reach the federally suggested physical activity level and achieve an hour longer of exercise a week.

“Anything that helps you get outside and moving is a health benefit,” said Deborah Pestak, 40, a nurse practitioner.

“Philadelphia is a dog friendly city, almost everyone has a dog. By getting outside multiple times a day and walking with your dog, you are getting cardio, going outside and getting the required weekly physical activity. Dogs need to be walked as much as people need exercise, so in essence dogs and people can help each other. It’s a winner all around,” Pestak said.

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