Owning a dog may encourage older people to exercise

by Editorial Staff - 2017.07.25

Older people should be given dogs on prescription to help increase their outdoor activity. Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that owning or walking a dog was one of the most effective ways to beat the usual decline in later-life activity, boosting mood and improving health. More than 3000 older-adults participating in the study were asked if they owned a dog and if they walked one. They also wore a small electronic device that constantly measured their physical activity level over a seven-day period. The study found that those with a pet were active for 30 minutes longer a day on average, far more than the researchers were expecting. Dog walking may have considerable potential to support the maintenance of physical activity in older adults and could form part of exercise on prescription schemes, the new study suggests. Where dog ownership is not possible, the researchers say the elderly should be encouraged to sign up for schemes such as Borrow My Doggy, a nationwide UK network, which allows people to walk other people’s pets.

Published in Active ageing.
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