Study Suggests Dogs Make Great Personal Trainers

By | June 11, 2017

Have you ever thought of your dog as a personal trainer? Well, in a way they are! They have this amazing ability to get us off our butts and out the door, rain or shine. I feel quite confident in saying our furry friends inspire us to do a lot more than we may do otherwise. Whether it’s a simple walk around the block late or night, or whether it’s an entire day to take a road trip to a park for a picnic and hike, they really can take credit for our own fitness.

How else do dogs benefit our health?

I’ve written before about how dogs can reduce feelings of loneliness and help people who may be prone to depression. Did you know they can also help our children as well? By having a dog in the house around our children, their microbiota can be altered, in turn lowering their chance of developing allergies later in life and also decreasing their chances of obesity. I thnk this latter one is a biggie in the western world right now, and I’m sure you’ve seen on the news that childhood obesity is a big concern everywhere! In my mind, it’sanother excuse to get a dog. (As if we even need any more excuses – lol!)

How dogs can benefit children

What do the Health Authorities say about exercising?

Back to the whole personal trainer thing now though, and I’m going to tell you about a recent study which actually proves this is the case with people who are moving into their twilight years. It may not surprise you to hear the WHO (World Health Organization) have recommended levels of activity for us all, whatever stage of life we are at. Let’s pull out one of these recommendations, which refers to adults who are aged 65 and older.

world-health-organization-logo

The WHO suggest that these adults should try and achieve a minimum of 2 and a half hours of moderate activity per week. If the activity is more vigorous in nature, the recommendation is one and a quarter hours instead. Now these are guidelines only, and we al know that things may vary from week to week, depending on what people have going on in their lives. But these guildelines work on averages over time, and it’s probably not a bad thing to keep an eye on these recommendations every so often, making sure we are “measuring up”,

A common saying amongst physiotherapists

My mother used to be a physiotherapist, and within these circles there is a well-known saying: “Use it or lose it”. As we age (and I’m not even talking about being that old) this becomes very true. I’m in my 40s now, and I sometimes make weird noises when I get out of a chair. I also notice that I get more general aches and pains, especially if I push myself to do something out of the ordinary. I shudder to think what this would be like if I didn’t keep up some level of base fitness! This base fitness level can defintiely be helped by getting out and about with your dog!

Why is walking so great?

It’s a well-known fact too, that walking can be one of the best forms of exercise, balancing cardiovascular fitness without over-stressing our joints. So another big tick for out walking with the dog! This is getting beteer and better.

What does the study reveal?

So what did this study actually reveal. It was conducted in the United Kingdom, and researchers used activity monitors which were able to tell the difference between walking and being sedentary. Not only that, but these monitors are able to distinguish between sitting, standing and lying down – so a bit mroe advanced than a pedometer or a fitbit!

As part of the study the research team were able to evaluate the time spent walking, just standing or even sitting.

Results showed that the dog owners walked an average of 22 minutes more than the non-dog owners, and they also walked an extra 2,760 steps per day. Wow!

study shows benefits of walking with a dog

“Over the course of a week, this additional time spent walking may in itself be sufficient to meet WHO recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity,” says study co-author Philippa Dall, a senior research fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.

As well as this extra time walking, the study also found that dog owners spent less continuous time sitting down than other adults. Hardly surprising is it, when we get up to let our dogs out for a toilet stop or play with them!

Based on their results, the researchers suggest that health professionals could promote dog ownership or shared ownership as a way to encourage older adults to be more physically active.


”Ultimately, our research will provide insights into how pet ownership may help older people achieve higher levels of physical activity or maintain their physical activity levels for a longer period of time.”

Nancy Gee, study co-author, WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

Based on their results, the researchers suggest that health professionals could promote dog ownership or shared ownership as a way to encourage older adults to be more physically active.

Learn how pets can boost health and well-being.

dog owners walk more

My final word

Imagine if we get to the day where Doctors can prescribe a dog to benefit our health! Hopefully there would be screening to make sure a person is suitable to own a dog first! But on that note, I will leave you to ponder the possibilities.

If you have any comments you would like to make, or feel your dog helps you keep healthy, pelase drop me a line below. I would love to ehar from you.

 

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4 thoughts on “Study Suggests Dogs Make Great Personal Trainers

  1. Heidi Hornlein

    I really appreciate your work to make known to people how important animals are in our lives and especially dogs. We had a trainer to help us with the dog, but actually, we were trained how to be with the dog and we got a very specific personal training by both, dog and trainer.

    In our Wisdom Factory live broadcasts we had a person talk about the benefits of living with dogs and especially when getting older. The 82 year old lady said: my 2 dogs keep me young, steps up and down, many times a day. We do that for a living creature but we might forget to move “just” for ourselves.

    Reply
  2. Adelheid - Heidi

    I really appreciate your work to make known to people how important animals are in our lives and especially dogs. We had a trainer to help us with the dog, but actually, we were trained how to be with the dog and we got a very specific personal training by both, dog and trainer.

    In our Wisdom Factory live broadcasts we had a person talk about the benefits of living with dogs and especially when getting older. The 82 year old lady said: my 2 dogs keep me young, steps up and down, many times a day. We do that for a living creature but we might forget to move “just” for ourselves.

    Reply
    1. Mara Post author

      Hello Heidi, and thank you for sharing this information with me. I definitely agree it might be harder to motivate ourselves o be active without a dog, especially as we get older. Mara

      Reply

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