A new study has confirmed what most dog owners already know: their companionship with their furry canine is incredibly good for one’s health and overall well-being.
Research now shows that all pets bring real health benefits to their owners, but dogs may be different because of their heightened level of loyalty and need for exercise. Pet ownership has already been associated with lower levels of stress for both adults and kids. Researchers have also found that dogs can decrease the risk of asthma in children and have been linked to lower blood pressure.
Adding to that, a new study confirmed that dog owners are more active than those who don’t own dogs, packing in more steps per day on their walks or just regular playtime. Last month, a study showed that older dog owners take 2,760 more steps per day on average compared to non-owners, which amounted to an additional 23 daily minutes of moderate exercise.
Researchers from University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Norfolk cohort, and they focused their study on 3,123 participants between the ages of 49 and 91. Nearly 20% of those participants owned a dog, and they all wore an accelerometer for seven days to track their movements. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
“Physical activity interventions typically try and support people to be active by focusing on the benefits to themselves, but dog walking is also driven by the needs of the animal,” project lead Andy Jones, a UEA professor, said in a press release. “Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future.”