PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dog walkers are getting health benefits without actually owning a pet.
Sophia Lloyd trekked 500 miles in the year-and-a-half since she’s been working for Barkly Pets, an on-demand dog walking service.
“I’ve typically been somebody who would sit at my office from 9 to 5 and not move and initially, it was a bit of an adjustment,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd’s regular job is being a business coach, where she’s very sedentary.
The dog walking provides a little extra money and there’s the added benefits of getting more exercise and being around dogs.
“It just feels really soothing to just have these little loving dogs, and all they want to do is make you happy,” she said.
Studies have shown people who walk dogs on a regular basis have lower risks for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Also, people who care for dogs live three years longer on average than people who don’t have dogs.
And just a few minutes of petting a pooch can stimulate production of feel-good brain chemicals.
Archie is one of the 350 dogs Lloyd has walked.
“I’ve only been with him a couple of times,” she said. “He’s very excited when he meets new people.”
Lloyd says she sprinkles the walks throughout the day to give her regular breaks from her desk job.
But she says it’s bonding with the dogs that gives her the most joy.
“It’s a good outlet to give love too,” Lloyd said.
And she says there’s another health benefit from the dog walking job, being outside helps clear her head.
“I know that by the end of the walk I will feel different than when I started,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd says she sometimes adds some jogging with the dog walks and always make sure to end her sessions with the dogs usually on her lap for some serious petting and playing.
Doctors say that all adds up to an hour of super healthy activity.