Trying to exercise more? A dog can help with that.

Man walking with jumping dog

If you’ve been toying with the idea of adopting a dog, trying to decide whether you want a badass breed or one that’s athletic, then we have an answer for you: Yes.

It’s that simple: Adding a pup to your family (even if it’s just the two of you) is the perfect way to stay active, according to new research from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.

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In the study, researchers analyzed info from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Norfolk cohort, which comprised over 3,000 men and women. To be fair, most of these participants were older, ranging somewhere between 40-79. But, the findings would likely translate to nearly anyone who needs to take their furry friend on a daily stroll outdoors.

Participants wore accelerometers, which noted the amount of time they spent sitting/lounging/snoozing, and how long they were out and about. Men and women also made note of the weather, education, health, and whether they had a pet. About 18% were the proud owners of pooches, and two-thirds of those folks went on daily walks with their dogs.

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These consistent dog walkers were more active on a daily basis whether it was hailing, freezing, or monsoon-ing (even though overall activity was lowest on nasty days). Interestingly enough, regular dog walkers were more active on the coldest days, even compared to people without dogs (or those who don’t consistently walk their pets) on England’s warmest days. 

What’s more, people who have dogs also reported being healthier, on average. People who walk their dogs outside, regardless of the weather, are more apt to have regular exercise habits. In the crappiest conditions, those who walked their dogs had 20% higher activity levels and spent 30 minutes per day less sedentary than pooch-less people.

Have a canine companion you want to be more active? Here are nine tips for running with your dog and the single best workout you can do with your furry friend.

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