Dogs and Exercise
With concern growing about the level of obesity in children and adults, the role of dogs in increasing exercise levels has become an important area of research. Australian researchers have been at the forefront of this area and there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that the improved health status of dog owners may, in part, be explained by the increased walking facilitated by dog ownership.
- A longitudinal study of over 14,000 pregnant women in England found a positive association between participation in activity at least once a week and dog ownership. In fact, dog owners were 50% more likely to achieve the recommended three hours of activity most days of the week. Dog owners were also more likely to participate in brisk walking.1
- Australian researcher, Dr Hayley Christian from The University of Western Australia, identified that people who acquired a dog increased their recreational walking by 48 minutes per week compared with an increase of only 12 minutes per week for people who did not acquire a dog during the period of the study. She also found that dog owners are more likely to meet the recommended levels of exercise than non-dog owners.2
- Westgarth, C, Liu, J, Heron, J, Ness, AR, Bundred, P, et al., 2012, ‘Dog Ownership during Pregnancy, Maternal Activity, and Obesity: A Cross- Sectional Study’, PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no.2: e31315. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0031315.
- Cutt, HE, Knuiman, MW, Giles-Corti, B, 2008, ‘Does getting a dog increase recreational walking?’, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 5. pp. 17-27.