I call James my ‘exercise buddy’ because he helps hold me accountable and keeps me moving – even as my baby bump continues to grow. Everyday, we go on two 15-minute walks, and three times a week, we go on longer two or three mile strolls. I used to be a frequent runner, but I stopped running after my first trimester due to round ligament pain. Without James, I don’t think I’d be nearly as active as I’ve been since then.
James and I aren’t alone – one recent study showed that pregnant women who own dogs are much more likely to exercise than pregnant ladies without pups.
The study of more than 11,000 pregnant women found that mommas-to-be with dogs were 50% more likely to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise a day compared to those without dogs. Half an hour of brisk walking a day is a doctor-recommended workout for pregnant women and can help reduce the maternal obesity and associated complications for the mother and baby.
Researchers have long recognized that dog ownership encourage activity in all types of people, but this study by the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare is the first to demostrate the correlation between pregnant women and dogs.
“We found that owning one or more dogs was associated with pregnant women taking part in brisk walking on a regular basis… Findings suggest that ownership of a dog provides some motivation to go for a walk, even during pregnancy,” said Dr. Carri Westgarth, from the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.
Unfortunately, owning a dog isn’t a sure-fire way to maintain a healthy weight throughout pregnancy. “Dog walking alone cannot reduce the numbers of obese pregnant women… and we found no association between the weight of women with dogs compared to those without them,” pointed out Dr. Westgarth. Of course, weight issues aside, there are numerous benefits to staying active while pregnant.
Every time I call out, “James, you wanna go on a waaaaalk?” and he comes bounding over, I’m thankful that I own a lovely dog who encourages me to stick with my healthy exercise goals. All three of us – including baby – benefit. And that makes us all a very happy family, indeed.
Also check out: Puppy Love: 10 Ways a Dog Can Prepare You for Pregnancy