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Price Tags has written before about the health impact of dog ownership on enhanced levels of physical activity for dog owners. In the Netherlands, estimates of walking activity had to be increased to recognize the individuals meeting and walking their dogs early in the mornings and evenings. There’s a new study out supportive of dog walking  in the newly published Walking Connecting Sustainable Transport with Healthbook published by Emerald Press.  There is also an interesting article in  The Telegraph  where research at the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia found that  “owning or walking a dog was one of the most effective ways to beat the usual decline in later-life activity” and  “encouraged the elderly to get out and about in bad weather, boosting mood and improving health.”
In a study of 300 participants, pet owners were found to walk 30 minutes more a day than average, a surprise to the researchers. “As adults age, they tend to become less active. In Britain it is estimated that fewer than half of older adults engage in the recommended weekly quota of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity.”
We know that physical activity levels decline as we age, but we’re less sure about the most effective things we can do to help people maintain their activity as they get older,” said lead author of the paper, Dr Yu-Tzu Wu from the University of Cambridge. We found that dog walkers were much more physically active and spent less time sitting overall.”
Even in bad weather dog walkers’ activity levels were 20 per cent higher than those without pets. In their article published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers conclude that dog ownership or a community based co-operative of dog walking could keep seniors more engaged and healthy. “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.”