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Older dog owners more active than pet-less peers

Older dog owners more active than pet-less peers

Dog owners are not only less stressed than their pooch-less peers but more active, with new research detailing the physical perks of owning a canine.

When it comes to the older generation, experts have found that those who have dogs as pets pack more steps into their days, with recent findings discovering dog owners take 2,760 more strides a day - equally around 23 extra minutes - in comparison to pet-free people.

A team from University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge analysed data on 3,123 participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Norfolk study. Subjects were aged between 49 and 91, with almost 20 per cent having a pet pooch, and each person was given an accelerometer to wear for seven days.

Results showed non-dog owners on average spent 30 minutes more sedentary than their dog owner counterparts, while dog owners were more active all round even when the weather was bad, with findings showing that on gloomy days dog owners clocked in more activity than non-pooch people did on brighter days.

“We were amazed to find that dog walkers were on average more physically active and spent less time sitting on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days than non-dog owners were on long, sunny, and warm summer days," project leader Andy Jones, a UEA professor, said, pointing out how putting a pet's needs first plays a part in this.

"Physical activity interventions typically try and support people to be active by focusing on the benefits to themselves, but dog walking is also driven by the needs of the animal. Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future."

Results were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It's hoped these findings will help encourage the older generation to remain active, as statistics show British adults are clocking in less than their weekly recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity as they get older.

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