Besides the fact that puppies are an absolute chick magnet, we’ve found 15 science-backed reasons to consider adding a dog to your pack!
1. Dogs Get You Moving
A March 2011 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions. Researchers at Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week than non-dog owners.
2. And Keep You Going
The same study from Michigan State found that owning a pet dog promotes health and fitness even after you take your pup for a stroll, increasing leisure-time physical activity by 69 percent.
3. Dogs Push You to the Next Level
A University of Missouri study found that walking with a dog leads to a 28 percent increase in walking speed, compared to a 4 percent increase found with a human walking buddy.
4. Dogs Don’t Accept Excuses
People who walk with dogs are more likely to stick to their fitness plans than those who walk with humans or alone, according to researchers at the University of Missouri.
5. Dogs Ease the Road to Recovery
Breakup? Romantic rough patch? Your furry friend is there for you in good times and bad. A study from the National Institutes of Health found dog owners had a better one-year survival rate following a heart attack than non-dog owners.
6. Dogs Lower Your Risk of Diabetes
Dog owners who walk their dogs regularly have one-third the risk of diabetes than those who don’t own and walk a dog, according to exercise scientist Cindy Lentino.
7. It’s Good for the Whole Family
A study from the University of Virginia found that teens from dog-owning families are more physically active than teens whose families don’t own a pet dog, clocking an extra 15 minutes of exercise each week.
8. Fewer Trips to the Doctor’s Office
Dog owners require 20 percent less medical care than non-dog owners, according to a UCLA study among the elderly.
9. Dogs Improve Your People Skills
Researchers at Central Michigan University found that when a dog is present in a collaborative group setting, group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion, and intimacy.
10. Dogs Provide Preventative Healthcare
Scientist from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that children from families with a history of allergies are less likely to develop eczema if they grow up with a pet dog starting at birth.
11. Puppies May Replace Your Pain Meds
Patients recovering from joint replacement therapy who use animal-assisted therapy need 50 percent less pain medication, according to Loyola University researchers.
12. Dogs Boost Your Social Life
It may seem counterintuitive, but being close with your pooch helps develop human relationships. Studies find that owning a dog, and particularly walking your dog, increases social interaction.
13. Dogs are Good for Your Heart
Sure, being more active will obviously lead to improved blood pressure, but studies have found that the mere act of petting your puppy will decrease your blood pressure.
14. Dogs Teach Us to Love
Child psychologist Robert Bierer of Albuquerque found that children who had experience caring for a dog had higher levels of empathy and self-esteem than children without pet dogs.
15. Dogs Are Powerful Listeners
Your pet pup could help your child learn to read. A study from the University of California, Davis found that kids who practice reading to a dog see a 12 percent improvement in reading skills over a 10-week period, compared to no improvement seen by kids who didn’t read to a pup.
Remember, pets are not something to have for a season or a few years. They are for life! We encourage everyone to consider adopting a pet – they will be eternally grateful.
More from Shape.com: