Study about Dog Owners & Exercise Raises Question

A recently published, large-scale study involving hundreds of British households suggests that having a dog can strongly influence how much people exercise. While this might seem intuitive, there had never been a study done that compared people living in the same neighborhood, with access to the same roads, sidewalks, parks, and environmental conditions.  The University of Liverpool decided to conduct such a study, and we think the results would be typical here in South Florida, as well.

The results showed that dog owners walked nearly 300 minutes per week, compared to under 100 minutes for non-dog owners. Standard guidelines for exercising for health call for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, so dog walkers are taking beneficial steps!

But the most unexpected result of the study is that dog owners also spent slightly more time than others jogging, cycling, and visiting the gym (without their dogs!). That means walking their pet didn't detract them from doing other activities!

So, as with other studies, this one raises more questions than answers: Do dog owners get more exercise because their dog encourages them to get moving?  Or are active people more likely to take on the responsibility of dog ownership, compared to their sedentary neighbors?

Which makes more sense to you? Tell us in the comment area.

(Picture credit: Jeenah Moon for The NYT)

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