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PIJAC Examines How Owning Pets Helps Humans Get Active


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Pets bring out the best in us. They share our struggles, our triumphs and everything in between. They also aid our mental and physical health. It is a proven fact that dog owners walk and exercise more than nonpet owners, to the benefit of their health, which has been referred to as the “Lassie Effect.” 

The "Lassie Effect" was reported on last year by National Public Radio (NPR). Covering yet another study showing greater exercise at higher levels of intensity, NPR noted that dog owners lower "the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and other conditions." The study found that the extra 20 minutes of walking per day turned into an extra 2,760 daily steps.

While extra physical activity is clearly beneficial in the short-term, the added health benefits from owning a pet go far beyond that. Owners that walk their pets have been noted to become more active in general. For example, according to a study examined by Express.co.uk, pet owners are "more likely to walk than drive anywhere and more likely to take the stairs than the elevator."

Every May, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition observes National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. As we celebrate physical fitness and sports this month, let's note the areas of our lives in which our pets are making differences and helping our health. Greater amounts of exercise and walking are a small privilege our pets grant us, along with their unconditional love and companionship!


Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC members include retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists and other trade organizations.

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