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Regular readers to these pages will know that we’re big on finding ways to intersect your personal life and your pursuit of fitness.

Whether it be disregarding your car and walking or cycling to work, or finding ways to eat a healthy lunch compared to the easier, faster and sometimes cheaper alternatives, there are numerous ways to impact your health in a positive way without having to drastically alter your already busy schedule.

So with that said, here’s another for you which will come as music to the ears of canine-lovers everywhere: having a dog can boost your health, help you live longer and contribute to a lifestyle which reduces your risk of heart attacks or stroke. Why is this? A recent study has pointed out that having a dog (and indeed taking him or her for regular walks) is an excellent way to get into a system of regular exercise.

Not only that, walking a dog is a social experience and will help boost your mental health as having a constant companion can help alleviate symptoms of loneliness or depression.

“We know that social isolation increases the risk of poor health and premature death,” Professor Tove Fall, of Uppsala University in Sweden, said. “Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.

The study also found that owning a dog reduces the rate of death of stroke patients by a factor of 33 percent, compared to 15 percent for those living with a partner or child.

“This study suggests positive effects of dog ownership for patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke. However, more research is needed to confirm causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention,” Professor Fall added.

“Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life.”

So the next time you see a four-legged friend going for a walk with his owner just know that this is a mutually beneficial relationship — and perhaps something that you should seriously consider for yourself.