Dog walking is not only an act of strolling in the park for pleasure but also associated with improving the physical well-being of the elderly. Older individuals who develop strong bonds with their pet dogs do exercise longer and more often.
Federal recommendations affirm that adults should have at least 150 minutes of exercise per week involving less strenuous physical activity. This activity could be in the form of walking, which is not difficult to reach a goal. It does not need any equipment or device and has less impact on the body.
Hence, dog walking presents the easiest way to help seniors stay active and healthy despite old age. A study was conducted by researchers involving Professor Rebecca Johnson and coworkers from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. They examined the 2012 data of the Health and Retirement Study that surveys a sample of nearly 20,000 Americans aged 50 years and above every two years.
The researchers learned that dog walking is associated with decreased body mass index, fewer doctor visits, and regular moderate physical exercise in seniors. They also observed that dog walking is related to fewer constraints of activities of daily living and offers more social benefits.
Also, the investigators also discovered that those seniors who took their dogs for a walk more often and for more extended periods are the ones who had the strongest bond with their pets.
Nonetheless, the study did not find a strong relationship between having a dog as a pet and improved physical health and other health behaviors.
Therefore, Professor Johnson draws into the conclusion that the results of their research can give the primary ground for professionals in the field of medicine to recommend pet ownership for seniors for reduced health costs.
She also added that pet-friendly rules and policies such as dog walking paths and even exercise areas in a retirement community could help boost the health of the aging population.
Thanks to Medical News Today for this story.
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