Dog Walking Makes Healthy Seniors
Research from the University of Missouri, published in The Gerontologist, has reported good news for older adults who own dogs.
It seems that your best friend might be responsible for keeping you fit.
Investigators found that dog walking is linked to improved physical health in seniors -- and older adults who form strong bonds with their canine pets tend to exercise longer and more often. Federal recommendations state that adults of all ages should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. For most people, walking is an easy way to reach that.
The study team analyzed data from the 2012 edition of Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 every 2 years.
Dog walking was linked to lower body mass index (BMI), fewer doctor visits and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise. Walking a dog was also linked to fewer limitations of daily living activities and an increase in social benefits, generally as a means to meet other pet owners. Plus, the researchers found seniors who had the strongest bond with their dog were the ones who walked their pet more often and for longer periods.
But be advised that it’s the walking part -- not just the having a dog part -- that accrues all the benefits: The study did not find a strong link between merely owning a dog and improved physical health or healthy behaviors.