The Benefits of Dog Ownership for Older Adults

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The Benefits of Dog Ownership for Older Adults

Introduction

Dog ownership has been linked to a number of health benefits, including reduced stress, lower risk of allergies and obesity in infants, and increased physical activity in older adults.

Methods

Researchers conducted a study involving 43 dog owners and 43 non-dog owners aged 65 years and over. Participants wore an activity monitor for three 1-week periods between 2013 and 2014.

Results

The results showed that dog owners walked an average of 22 minutes more than non-dog owners, and they also walked an extra 2,760 steps per day. This additional time spent walking may be sufficient to meet the WHO’s recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

Additionally, the team found that dog owners had fewer continuous periods of sitting down, compared with non-owners. Total time spent sitting down did not differ between both groups, however.

Discussion

The researchers suggest that health professionals could promote dog ownership or shared ownership as a way to encourage older adults to be more physically active.

The study has some limitations, including its observational nature and the fact that all participants were volunteers. However, the findings point to further benefits of pet ownership, which is likely to make a few tails wag.

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