Exercise Goes to the Dogs

Canine friends get humans up and walking more often, study finds

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FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A friend that woofs may help you hoof it more often.

That's the conclusion of a Canadian study that finds dog ownership nearly doubles the amount of time spent healthily walking.

"There's this extra dog obligation that helps get people up and out for their exercise," study co-author Shane Brown, a physical education instructor and researcher at the University of Victoria, said in a prepared statement.

As reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Peventive Medicine, the study of 351 adults in Victoria, B.C., found that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes a week compared to 168 minutes for those without a dog.

Interestingly, other than walking, the dog owners in this study actually got less overall exercise than people without dogs. This suggests that when dog owners go for walks, they do it partly because they choose to be active with their pets, Brown said.

"There's a lot of common sense around the idea that if people have dogs in an urban setting, they're going to walk a lot," Sylvia Moore, director of the division of medical education and public health at the University of Wyoming, said in a prepared statement.

Community infrastructure -- such as dog-walking parks -- may help determine how active urban dog owners will be, Moore and Brown noted.

Despite the findings, Brown said he's certainly not recommending people get a dog just to help them get exercise.

"We're definitely not saying, 'Everyone go out and get a dog.' We are saying that for those of us who have dogs, or those who are thinking of getting a dog, this is an added benefit," Brown said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about walking.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, Feb. 7, 2006

Robert Preidt

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