Published by PETA Staff.

If you’re trying to tighten your belt—in more ways than one—you might want to cancel that pricey gym membership and invest in a pair of walking shoes and a comfy harness for Harley instead.

According to a survey in the U.K., dog guardians get more exercise from walking their canine companions than people with gym memberships do—an average of eight hours and 11 minutes of exercise a week for dog guardians, compared to a measly one hour and 20 minutes of exercise a week for people without dogs.

This makes sense to anyone who’s ever been owned by a dog. Dogs need to get outside, stretch their legs, breathe fresh air, and sniff the hydrants every day, and so do we (OK … maybe not that last one). Each walk is an exciting adventure to dogs (Who will we meet? What will we smell?), and their enthusiasm makes exercising enjoyable for us too.

According to the survey, more than three quarters of respondents said they’d rather walk their dog than hit the gym. And unlike human exercise partners, our dogs never bail out on us at the last minute. (If your normally enthusiastic pup declines a walk, get him or her to the vet—your pal could be sick or injured.)

If you don’t share your home with a canine companion, you can still reap the benefits of dog-walking by offering to walk a friend’s or neighbor’s dog (a lonely dog who is kept chained or caged would be especially grateful for the attention, exercise, and change of scenery) or by volunteering to walk dogs at your local animal shelter.

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