Study: Seniors Who Walk Their Dogs Enjoy Better Physical Health

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults of all ages should have 150 minutes (or more) of physical activity per week. For adults 60 and over, the most popular form of fulfilling physical activity requirements is to walk – it’s self-paced, low-impact and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. But walking by yourself can be a drag. If you’re a senior, science says you need to get a dog… and you should always listen to science!

Backing that claim is a recent study published by the researchers at the University of Missouri, called “Dog Walking, the Human-Animal Bond and Older Adults’ Physical Health.” The study shows that there’s a connection between dog walking and increased physical health for older adults.

Related: The Best Dog Breeds For Seniors

It also goes on to state that older adults who are also pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions. Dog walking is associated with fewer doctor visits, more frequent exercise, lower body mass index and an increase in social benefit for seniors.

The study analyzed data from 2012 from the Health and Retirement, and includes information about human-animal interactions, frequency of doctor visits, physical activity and health outcomes of participants. The results showed that dog ownership and walking were definitely related in terms of physical health among older adults. Proven results like the ones published in this study can be used by medical professionals, and pet lovers who want to keep their dog in seniors residences. In the grander scheme of things, this also means reduces health expenditures in the future for the aging population of Americans.

Related: Rules of Retirement Homes Change To Accommodate Pet Parents

The results also revealed that people who had a strong bond with their dogs were more likely to spend time walking their dogs than those who reported weaker bonds. Furthermore, the study shows that kept walking offers a way for older adults to socialize with other like-minded pet owners and other people (because who wouldn’t want to pet a dog going for a walk!)

We think it’s a wonderful idea for retirement homes – these residences would benefit from being more pet-friendly. Perhaps introducing amenities such as dog-walking trails and dog exercise areas would allow residents to keep mobile and, in turn, allow them to reap both the physical and mental benefits of having a happy-go-lucky pooch around! The seniors take in the health benefits while the dogs have someone who will give them all the love and attention they so deserve. It’s a win-win situation!


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