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The Real Reason Why You Love Walking Your Dog

The Real Reason Why You Love Walking Your Dog
From TIME - September 5, 2017

Owning a dog and going on regular dog walks both have proven health benefits. But a small new study suggests that no matter how many times you hear that pounding the pavement with your pup is good exercise, thats ultimately not what gets you (and your four-legged friend) up and moving.

According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, dog owners are motivated to walk their pets because it makes them happynot for health or social reasons. Also up there on the list of reasons? They think it makes their dogs happy, too.

RELATED: 15 Best Dog Breeds for Active People

The study analyzed interviews and personal written reflections from 26 people about why, exactly, they walk their dogs. While many owners said they do it to benefit their pooch, the researchers say the importance of the owners happiness and well-being was also clear.

But that happiness depends on the owner believing that the dog is enjoying the walk, the researchers noted in their paper. Motivation to walk was decreased when owners had reason to doubt this notionlike when they felt their dog was misbehaving, lazy, or too old to walk regularly.

The study mainly suggests that dog owners keep doing what theyre doing, since they can still rack up the health benefits of dog-walking even if that's not the primary goal.

But it does make the case that health advocates might want to tweak their message when promoting dog-walking in order to appeal to more people. (Dog owners are generally more physically active than non-owners, the authors say, but some rarely walk their dogs at all.)

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