Heart Health

Walking the dog: Yes, it counts as exercise

A canine companion may help older people stay active — and provide other heartfelt benefits.

 Image: © Tatiana_Stulbo/Thinkstock

If you're among the many millions of dog owners in the United States, you're probably more active than most people without a canine companion at home. But that's just one of the potentially heart-protecting benefits dog owners enjoy, says Dr. Elizabeth Frates, director of wellness programming at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

"A dog provides love, companionship, and a sense of purpose that propels you to get outside walking every day," says Dr. Frates. Daily exercise is probably the most tangible benefit of dog ownership, she notes. And a new study suggests that the added activity counts toward recommended physical activity goals.

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