Dogs Help Seniors Stay Active

According to a recently published study, owning a dog increases older adults’ likelihood of complying with the World Health Organization’s recommended level of physical activity. Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, and depression. This study is further proof that owning a dog can contribute to maintaining health even at an advanced age.

Daily moderate walking keeps you fit

“We all know that we slow down a bit as we age,” says project leader Professor Daniel Mills. “By staying active, we can improve our health and other aspects of our quality of life. The factors that lead to greater levels of physical activity in adults are not particularly well defined. We wanted to know if owning a dog could potentially improve the health status older adults can improve by increasing activity levels.”

The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University study was conducted in collaboration with the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition. For the first time, the researchers used an activity meter to collect objective activity data from study participants with and without a dog.

“It turns out that dog owners walk over 20 minutes more a day, and that extra walking is at a moderate pace,” said Dr. Philippa Dall, Research Director. “To stay in good health, the WHO recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Over a week, that extra 20 minutes of walking each day can by itself be enough to meet these targets. Our results show a Significant improvement in terms of physical activity from walking the dog.”

The dog as a motivator

“The study shows that dog ownership can play an important role in motivating older adults to walk. We found an objective way to measure activity that worked very well. We recommend that future research in this area include the Include dog ownership and dog walking as important aspects,” explains Nancy Gee, a co-author of the study. “Even if dog ownership isn’t the focus of this, it could be an important factor that shouldn’t be ignored.”

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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