Dog: man’s best friend is also his health

Owning a dog and walking it regularly is good for your health. A study highlights the link between dog walking and physical health in the elderly. Thanks to this research work, the scientists also showed that seniors who had a strong relationship with their pets tended to exercise over a longer period of time and more frequently.

This research work focused on the analysis of 2 American databases of elderly people, the Health and Retirement and the Social Security Administration. This study was based on data including human-animal interactions, physical activity, frequency of medical visits and participants’ general health.

A dog on “prescription”, why not..

The results showed that owning a dog and walking it was associated with increased physical health among older people. These findings may be the (scientific) basis for medical professionals to recommend dog ownership for the elderly, which could translate into lower healthcare costs.

The more you love your dog, the better the health

The results also showed that people with a strong relationship with their dog walked it more frequently and for longer than those with a weak relationship. Simply put, the more a person loved their dog, the more they seemed to enjoy the health benefits. This research also showed what might seem obvious, dog owners socialized with other pet owners, another beneficial effect for seniors. We know that socialization is important in preventing certain dementias such as Alzheimer’s. Senior homes should provide more space for dogs, such as having a playpen for pets to play and walk around.

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Curl AL. Dog Walking, the Human-Animal Bond and Older Adults’ Physical Health.The Gerontologist.DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnw051 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27002004)


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