Dog owners are healthier, happier and wealthier than gym goers!

it's a dog's life! Swap your gym membership for a dog – it keeps you fitter and freer from stress say research findings.

DogFor a healthier and stress free lifestyle you're better off walking a dog than joining a gym. That's the conclusion of a nationwide survey and in-depth study commissioned by Butcher's Dog Food, which found that walking a dog daily lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rates, reduced stress and enables you to recover more rapidly after a burst of strenuous physical activity

The survey, which polled over 1500 dog owners and gym goers, revealed the average dog owner will walk the equivalent of Bangkok to London over their pet's lifetime (that's 333 marathons!) Over the course of a year they cover 676 miles – that's a staggering 208 miles more than gym goers, who only clock up 468 miles in an average year. So, the exercise dog walkers get from simple walkies and games is almost one third more than they would get out of an average gym membership over the same period.

Dog walkers are also more likely to stick to their routine (92%) whereas gym goers are found to lose interest after two or three months (52%).

To further investigate the findings of the survey, psychologist Dr David Lewis studied the health and exercise habits of two groups of middle aged men and women – one group consisted of dog walkers the other non-dog walking gym members.

His controlled tests discovered:
*Dog walkers had a much quicker recovery time after strenuous exercise than gym goers. After 8 minutes of strenuous exercise on a stepping machine within sixty seconds, dog walkers' heart rate had returned almost to resting rate. Among gym members it was still 29 beats above resting level.

*Dog walkers spend a greater amount of time on heart strengthening aerobic exercise than gym goers – only 48% of time is dedicated to aerobic exercise.

*52% of gym members reported suffering from high levels of stress compared to only 35% of dog walkers. *One in three (31%) dog walkers reported being able to manage their stress easily, felt confident and optimistic most of the time among gym members less than a quarter (24%) said the same.

According to Butcher's Pet Care depending on whether you like to stroll down the streets or power walk around the park there is a dog to suit your fitness level. Below is a list to help you pick your perfect training partner.

Strollers: Basset Hound, Whippet, Shih-Tzu, Dachshund & Corgi.

Brisk walkers: Boxer, Doberman, German Shepherd, JackRussell Terrier & Retrievers.

Power walkers: Border Collies, Dalmatian, Springer Spaniels, Setters & Weimaraner.

Says Alison Cockcroft, Butcher's Brand Manager “Come January hordes of men and women will flock to the gym to ward off the excesses of Christmas, but how long will it last? We wanted to test the theory that a ‘walkie a day' is just as beneficial, if not more, than spending time pumping iron in the gym – we were delighted to find that it is!”