Dog Ownership Gets Seniors Moving More

Steamy summer weather has many runners and dog walkers rising early to get their steps in before the heat of the day.   And while it’s easy to find an excuse not to exercise, having a dog who will drive you crazy the rest of the day without a proper walk is great motivation to get moving.  And a new study has found that seniors who own a dog are more active, taking an additional 2,760 steps each day.

According to a June 9 Global News report, dog ownership increases the average activity of seniors by 22 minutes daily.  Research out of the United Kingdom has found that dogs can help older adults reach the World Health Organization recommended goal of a minimum of 150 minutes of activity each week.  Staying active in older age not only improves quality of life by preserving physical function, it may also contribute to longevity and better cognitive abilities.

Dog owners not only walk more, they are also reported less time spent sitting.  Dogs need to be let in and out frequently throughout the day, groomed, played with and kept supplied with fresh food and water; all of which causes owners to get up off the couch more often.

Besides helping seniors stay more active, dogs also provide loving companionship which can help help lower blood pressure and calm stress.  Seniors who walk their dogs each day in the neighborhood or at local parks may also find dog ownership provides opportunities for social interaction that might otherwise be missed.  Dogs owners are much like proud parents and generally love to talk about their cherished pets bringing neighbors who seldom exchange more than a hello together over a common interest.

To read the full study online, visit the BMC Public Health Journal here.