11/03/2011 19:17 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Why Puppy Love Could Keep You Fit

Famke-Janssen-walking-pet-dog Does actress Famke Janssen stay slim by pounding the Manhatten pavements with pet pooch Licorice? Photo: FilmMagic, Marcel Thomas

We all know we need to exercise regularly if we want to stay healthy, but getting the right amount of exercise doesn't always come easy, especially if you're not a natural fitness fan. There is one way you could up your activity levels though, and that's to walk a dog.

According to experts from Michigan State University, people who own and walk their dogs are 34% more likely to meet official physical activity requirements than those who are pooch-free. Writing in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, researchers claim dog walkers aren't just more likely to do lots of walking, they're more active overall too.

"There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking," says epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, one of the study's researchers.

The study also found that younger and older people - rather than middle-aged dog owners - are the most likely to get the biggest physical activity boost from owning a dog.

It also suggests that the younger your dog, the more you tend to walk, while larger breed dogs are walked for longer than smaller dogs. So if it's exercise you're after, stay away from handbag-sized pooches (they may be cute, but a bigger dog will keep you more active).

Owning a dog has also been shown to have a positive impact on quality of life - so for animal lovers at least, it's a win-win situation.

Are you a dedicated dog person, or are low-maintenance pets like cats more your cup of tea?

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