Survey Proves That Having Pets Is Good For Your Health

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Looking for ways to get moving? Get a dog or cat (or both)! According to a survey by, furry family members keep their pet parents healthy.

National Pet Day is April 11, and in honor of this special day, polled over 1000 people to see how caring for their pets affected their overall activity and health levels. They wanted to know if being a pet parent makes you more or less likely to work out and exercise, and if there were any other benefits to furry, faithful friends. Not surprisingly, they found the answer to all of the above was a resounding, “Yes!”

The Department of Health and Human Services suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for adults to maintain healthy lifestyles. Being a dog parent makes that recommendation one that’s easy to meet as you most likely are getting up and out to let your pups get their exercise and potty breaks. Cat owners weren’t as likely to have as much exercise opportunity with their cats, but they actually averaged more weekly workouts than did people who didn’t have dogs or had only dogs. Overall though, pet owners averaged about two more hours of physical activity a week than did their non-pet-parent peers.

Related: HABRI Proves Animals Provide Amazing Health Benefits

Have Pets, Will Play

And, when it came to the average number of days of pet play pet parents replied they had, once again, cat parents top the list over dog parents and those who had both cats and dogs. Most of the dog owners and the owners of both cats and dogs preferred walking as their main exercise while those who only had cats preferred home videos.

Of those who owned both cats and dogs, four out of five respondents said that walks with their pets were better than walks without, and almost two of every three respondents said they didn’t even like to run or jog if their pet wasn’t with them. Yoga at home with cats was an exercise preference (44% of respondents) and surprisingly, even nearly 30% of cat owners said they too wanted to walk with their cats.

Time Is On Their Side

When it came to dog breed breakdown, it turns out that the owners of Boxers averaged about 232 minutes of exercise a week, while Rottweiler parents only averaged about 106 minutes a week. Medium-sized dog parents averaged about 169 minutes, which is higher than small- and large-breed pet parents. That said, Chihuahua parents are active about 162 minutes a week, and behind them were owners of Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, and German Shepherds.

Related: Study Confirms Pets Help People With Mental Health Issues

Puppy Dog Eyes Really Motivate

The survey found that nearly 100% (okay, 98% to be exact) of dog owners believed having their dog made them more physically active. Of those who had both cats and dogs, 96% said the same, and believe it or not, 89% of cat-only parents also felt their kitties made them more physically active. Over 60% admitted they purposely brought pets into their lives so they could live more active lifestyles. A third of surveyed dog owners had gym memberships while nearly a quarter of surveyed cat owners did, but that’s pretty sweet considering that only 15% of non-pet owners had memberships. Seems like pets are not only companions but motivators as well.

Critter Comforts

While exercise and fitness were motivating factors for a majority of surveyed pet parents to get pets, over 70% of those surveyed also believe that being pet parents helps them not be lonely and stressed. Over 60% thought that pets help them when they’re sad and 50% believe that pet ownership can combat depression. And we all know healthy minds are more motivated to work for healthy bodies, so pets definitely give to us not just in loyalty and love but in health and welfare as well.

If you’re a pet parent, take this National Pet Day opportunity to give your pets some extra love and attention for their ability to bring the best out in us–both emotionally and physically. And if you’re not a pet parent, think about all the benefits pets brings to our lives and check your local shelter or rescue group out. National Pet Day would be a great Adoption Day too!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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