Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grab the leash: Dog walkers more likely to reach exercise benchmarks

Date:
June 20, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Man's best friend may provide more than just faithful companionship: A new study shows people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity. The results show that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans -- of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity -- become healthier.

A study by MSU researcher Mathew Reeves shows dog walkers are more likely to reach exercise benchmarks.
Credit: Photo by Kurt Stepnitz

Man's best friend may provide more than just faithful companionship: A new study led by a Michigan State University researcher shows people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.

Related Articles


The results, said epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, show that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans -- of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity -- become healthier.

"Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people," Reeves said. "What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity."

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

Using data from the Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, an annual health survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Community Health, Reeves and his team found that not only did owning and walking a dog impact the amount of walking a person does but also that dog walkers were more active overall.

The study showed people who walked their dogs generally walked about an hour longer per week than people who owned dogs but did not walk them.

"Obviously you would expect dog walkers to walk more, but we found people who walked their dog also had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activities," he said. "There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking."

The study analyzed the amount of leisure-time physical activity a person gets; examples include sports participation, exercise conditioning and recreational activities such as walking, dancing and gardening. Public health benchmarks call for at least 150 minutes of such activity a week.

"There is no magic bullet in getting people to reach those benchmarks," Reeves said. "But owning and walking a dog has a measurable impact."

He also pointed out the social and human/animal bond aspects of owning a dog that has been shown to have a positive impact on quality of life. And since only about two-thirds of dog owners reported regularly walking their dogs, Reeves said dog ownership represents a opportunity to increase participation in walking and overall physical activity.

"The findings suggest public health campaigns that promote the responsible ownership of a dog along with the promotion of dog walking may represent a logical opportunity to increase physical activity," he said.

Other findings in the study revealed: Middle-age people have the least amount of time to walk their dogs; younger and older people get the most physical activity benefit; dogs 1 year old or younger were more likely to be walked than older dogs; and larger breed dogs (those more than 45 pounds) were walked for a longer duration than smaller dogs.

Contributing authors to the research include Ann Rafferty, Corinne Miller and Sarah Lyon-Callo, all with the Michigan Department of Community Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mathew J. Reeves, Ann P. Rafferty, Corinne E. Miller, Sarah K. Lyon-Callo. The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011; 8 (3): 436-444 [link]

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Grab the leash: Dog walkers more likely to reach exercise benchmarks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310151218.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, June 20). Grab the leash: Dog walkers more likely to reach exercise benchmarks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310151218.htm
Michigan State University. "Grab the leash: Dog walkers more likely to reach exercise benchmarks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310151218.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins