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University study reveals running with dogs is a top remedy for bad moods

University study reveals running with dogs is a top remedy for bad moods

  • Study shows people feel more energised after exercising with their animals
  • Runners showed improved physical and emotional experience with canine company
  • Dr Sarah Edmunds from the University of Chichester led the research

 

RUNNING with a dog can significantly improve a workout more so than going it alone, according to new research from the University of Chichester.

A joint study by the University and pet food brand Canagan examined whether runners had an enhanced physical and emotional experience when accompanied by their canine. It revealed that exercising with a dog can enhance the effect of feeling more energised after working out, leaving significantly greater feelings of stamina and, most of all, vigour - compared to going it alone.

Study leader Dr Sarah Edmunds, a sport and exercise psychologist from the University’s Institute of Sport, conducted the study with PhD student Elspeth McVey. Dr Edmunds said: “Despite nearly a quarter of adults in the UK owning a dog, there has been very little research investigating the role dogs play in their owners’ motivation for exercise.

“This is the first study, that we are aware of, which has looked specifically at the impact of running with dogs on their owner’s exercise experience. Results show that our participants exercised at the same intensity both with and without their dog and they experienced a psychological benefit from running with their dog.

“From a behaviour change point of view this is of interest as autonomous motivation is associated with exercise adherence. Interview data found participants were autonomously motivated to run with their dogs. This was a small-scale study, but it indicates taking your dog as a running companion may help to provide that extra motivation to get you out running and help you enjoy the activity.”

Study shows people feel more energised after exercising with their animals

The data revealed that negative mood states like depression, anger and fatigue decreased following all runs. It is also possible to maintain the same exercise intensity when running with your dog as without, showing this activity is a feasible way to build exercise into both you and your dog’s routine, discounting perceptions that a dog’s need to stop intermittently would hinder your regime.

The study reveals that dog owners who participated in the study felt that the prospect of running with their dog gave them the motivation to get up and go – turning ‘good intentions’ into ‘action’. Emotional connection with our dogs helps us go the distance.

Dog owners also reported feeling satisfied knowing that they’re doing an activity their pet loves too. The feeling of companionship on a run makes the activity itself more enjoyable.

Dr Sarah Edmunds from the University of Chichester led the researchHenry Dove, veterinary expert for Canagan pet food, said: “The companionship you share with your dog offers so many benefits and this can be applied to running with your dog. Building runs into your pet’s daily exercise regime will ensure they will be fit, will be less likely to be overweight, will keep their joints mobile, and will strengthen their muscle mass.

“They will also get mental stimulation from going to new places and be happy that they are doing something with you. It is important to remember that like humans, your dog will need to build their running endurance over time, and they will need water along the way too.”

Exercising with a dog has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, leading owners to a more physically active lifestyle. Better yet, exercising with a dog isn’t just good for you, but it also boosts your dog’s overall health, mood and fitness levels.

For more about Dr Sarah Edmunds’ and her research go to www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-sarah-edmunds