What if Every Dog Ran: Benefits of Running

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We have gone on record to state that owners of overweight or obese pets are not only shortening their pet’s lifespans, but they are also spending needless billions of dollars each year in extra food and medical costs. Our (conservative) estimate is that this cost is somewhere near $8 billion for dogs alone and the total is probably at least doubled if cats are included.


It turns out that Mizuno, the athletic apparel and equipment company had commissioned a study called “What If Everybody Ran” that explored the myriad of benefits that could happen if everyone in the U.S. ran on a regular basis. The study was performed by MBA students at the University of North Carolina’s business school. Note: as a Duke University graduate, it does pain me to refer to this report! 😉


The students analyzed U.S. Census data and research studies to determine how running might impact our overall health and the economy. Some of the findings are pretty astounding but also in line with what we have been suggesting are the benefits of keeping our pets fit and trim. Below is a list of some of the more interesting benefits. (View the full report here).


  • An increase in life expectancy of 5.6 more years for women and 6.2 years for men
  • 200 billion pounds of weight loss per year and 200 million inches lost from our waistlines
  • $143 billion saved in health care costs
  • 10 percent more earning potential in the average household
  • And of course…63 million happier dogs


Any one of these estimate are significant individually, but taken together, they are absolutely amazing. Even if the estimates are not precise, there is no doubt that they are directionally correct.


benefits of running


Many of these same benefits can also affect our pets. Dogs will live almost 2 years longer if they are in shape and lean.   Regular exercise can increase their moods and brain function. The list goes on and on. In fact, this research has inspired me to conduct my own detailed analysis of the benefits of having a running dog, or fit dog on our health and pocketbook. I will publish my results in a future post.


One last point about this study. Many of the articles used to support the conclusions were about exercise in general and not just running. Thus, if you and your pet can’t run, you both can still experience all of these amazing benefits as long as you exercise regularly at moderate to high levels of intensity.


What are you waiting for? Let’s improve get fit with our dogs and save money and increase our lifespans and quality of like. It’s the biggest no brainer in history.

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  1. The benefits to staying active are so numerous; the great thing about exercise is that it becomes a habit. Starting is the hard part, once it’s part of your daily routine it’s something that just gets done rather than dreaded. I learned that a few years ago and don’t regret anything; I feel so much better now that I’m active. We owe it to our canine friends as well, they don’t get to control what they eat or how they exercise, it’s up to us to be a great example for them and improve their quality of life.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…Feeding Your Dog Less May Lead To A Longer LifeMy Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!

    If you’re old, walkin’ will accomplish the same thing. People all walked everywhere before roads improved and cars became prevalent. In this little mountain community, where processed and prepackaged food was unheard of until recent generations and travel was by foot there are a number of people who passed the number 100 in age laying in cemeteries.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Fitness Friday Fun Find …My Profile

  3. I agree with Hawk- except for the too old part! The problem with walking as official exercise is that too few people walk fast enough to get their heart rates up and the same then goes for their dogs. But if you are walking to get places and get things done, like Hawk mentions, then your doing your body just as much good as running.
    Bethany recently posted…Leashed Dog Friendly Lopez Hill And Spencer Spit State Park Hikes On Lopez Island, WashingtonMy Profile

  4. I love that infographic & the point you would have a HEAP of happier dogs if the owner ran. Great blogpost yet again!!!
    Paws &Pedals recently posted…The BIG UpdateMy Profile

  5. Running is awesome, but when we don’t run, we walk and by walking we mean at a good pace. So many people comment to us that we walk so fast, but we like it that way. Just putzing along may be nice if we are exhausted or ill, but it doesn’t do much for the body although it still beats not walking at all. People need to get out and move and if you are older you won’t move like a 20 yr old, but move! Even Katie can get her speed up a bit, Mom is doing speed walking intervals with her.
    Emma recently posted…Beginner Tracking by BailieMy Profile

  6. I agree with you, we had a giant vet bill every month for meds as we adopted our sadly obese girl Chipy. After she lost some lbs (12!) she was a completely different dog :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog FFHT FRYDAYMy Profile

  7. Running with Eko is one of my favorite things – can’t wait until Penny is old enough to come with us. Staying lean is important for all dogs, but especially large breeds who can suffer greatly from bone/joint issues later in life.

    • It’s so helpful – we’ve seen big improvements in both Jack & Maggie since we’ve started on a regular running program with them – and they are both seniors.
      mkob recently posted…What if Every Dog Ran: Benefits of RunningMy Profile

  8. Pyrs don’t really enjoy running and its too hard on their joints at this age. We do go for long, brisk walks though! They’re our favorite 🙂
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Happy Birthday, Mauja!My Profile

  9. I ran once. LOL I heard it’s hard on the knees, but with a dog like Delilah I’m sure I’d end up injured. I do like walking with them (mostly) though. 🙂
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – September 26, 2014My Profile

  10. I agree with Hawk. I think walking can accomplish a lot. I used to walk everywhere. I did not own a car. Now I have to make time to get out and walk. We live in a neighborhood with a large Pakistani/Indian population. Those people are always out walking, even the elderly. I think they have the right idea.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Hunting GrouseMy Profile

  11. Great post and couldn’t believe the benefits, wow. The info graphic is great! Have a great day and I’ll catch up with you in 10 days. Take care!

  12. All summer I told myself that I would start getting up really early to take Chewy running before the heat set in, but summer is over now and I am embarrassed to say it never happened! We just both like to sleep in as much as possible. Now that the temperature is cooling down, maybe we will actually go for morning runs at a more reasonable hour.
    Chewy the Golden recently posted…FitDog Friday: Find the Treat to Chase Away Rainy Day BluesMy Profile

  13. Wow these benefits are so good. Will have to take Kilo for a run.

  14. Those are impressive statistics! I don’t see myself ever becoming a consistent runner, but I do like to intersperse it with brisk walks. I didn’t feel like running the other day, but I took Cricket out and we did end up jogging some short spurts at least. She’s the one that really wants to run….so she does motivate me!
    Jan K recently posted…Barking About…..Canine Paws and ToesMy Profile

  15. That’s a cool study! To continue the walking conversation… we have lots of hills here so walking up the hills also is great exercise! … or walk down and run up, now that’s a great workout!
    Diane recently posted…Agility Practice with PalsMy Profile

  16. We’ve had an extremely hot summer (well record summer for us anyway) so I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures to walk in.

  17. I do some jogging with my huskies, and they have a blast!!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Silver Paw Pet Tags VS. Regular tagsMy Profile

  18. Does a fast walk count? I’m not a runner, but do like walking fast and I would like for Haley to drop about 5 pounds. When a runner passes us, Haley picks up her pace, then looks at me like ‘Let’s Run too!’. We have a lot of hills where we live, so we still get a good workout.
    Elaine recently posted…Foods You Should Never Feed Your DogMy Profile

  19. The human statistics are insane! I like how in the infographic it mentions that there would be 63 million happier dogs! But as you’ve highlighted they’d be much healthier too.

  20. Harley’s not much of a runner, and neither am I, but he loves a fast pace and he’s good with distance so that’s our tale…

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