Here’s Why Owning a Dog is Beneficial for Older Adults

By Lisa Franchi on June 16, 2017

Dog owners over the age of 65 walk 22 minutes more than they would if they own a dog, according to new research. The research, carried out by experts from The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University found that owning a dog indicates a large, potentially health improving average effect of 22 minutes additional time spent walking. 

Physical activity is highly important if you are looking to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, multiple cancers and depression. The study shows that owning a dog can help support health as people age. 

’We all know that as we get older we tend to slow down a little,’ says Dr Daniel Mills, a Professor of Veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln and the project leaders. ’By staying active we can improve our health and other aspects of our quality of life.’ 

For the study, researchers measured the physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour (SB) of 43 pairs of dog owners and non-dog owners over the age of 65. Participants wore can measure sedentary, standing or stepping patterns and the intensity of a subject’s activities. It’s worn continuously, including overnight and during bathing, as it can be waterproofed.   

The researchers found that dog owners who walk over 20 minutes more a day and this additional walking was at a moderate pace. 

’For good health WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.’ said Dr Philippa Dall, the lead author of the study and a researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University. 

’Over the course of a week this additional 20 minutes walking each day may in itself be sufficient to meet these guidelines. 

’Our findings represent a meaningful improvement in physical activity achieved through dog walking.’ 

The researchers conclude that owning a dog may motivate older adults to engage in physical activity, and that health promotion professionals could consider encouraging dog ownership or shared care of dogs in older people. 

Source of this article: 

DOGS can help the over 65’s keep fit: Study find those with canine companions walk 20 more minutes per day 

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