Walking Dog Can Help You Keep Fit
According to new research owning a dog is hugely beneficial to your heart. Dog owners are 34% more likely than those who do not own a pet, to get the recommended minimum amount of exercise each week.
Study author Mathew Reeves, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Michigan State University in East Lansing says dogs are the greatest motivators for indulging in physical activity, with people who walk their dogs, walking about an hour longer each week.
Publishing his findings in the March issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Reeves, who is also a veterinarian says both humans and pets are equally affected by the public health problem of obesity, with ‘just as many health benefits from walking for the pet as for the owner’. He suggests keeping a pet if one is neglectful about exercising for one’s own health, as perhaps keeping Fido healthy could motivate one to move.
The researchers reviewed data from the 2005 Michigan Behavioural Risk Factor Surveys for their analysis, which included responses from almost 6,000 people. Of them, 41% owned a dog, two-thirds of whom walked their dog for at least 10 minutes at a stretch, while the remaining one-third were not regular in walking their dogs.
Overall, dog owners were 69% more likely to participate in leisure-time physical activity than those who did not own a dog, including being 34% more likely to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
Dog owners cited numerous reasons for not walking dogs, the most common being the dog self-exercised or was an outside dog. Others said they did not have time or were uninterested in walking the dog; while some reported their dog as being far too ill-behaved to take for a walk; or either the dog or they themselves were too old to walk.
Researchers found people in the 65 plus age group the most likely to meet the exercise guidelines through walking the dog, while middle-aged people were least likely to spend time dog walking. According to survey results, lower income people, specifically those under $20,000 a year spending the most time walking their dogs each week. People with younger dogs tended to exercise more, while small dogs get shorter walks than larger dogs.
The authors of the study, suggest public health campaigns emphasize the health benefits of regular dog walking, based on the study results.
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