Numerous reasons were cited for not walking dogs, but the most common excuse was that the dog self-exercised or was an outside dog. Some dog owners said they had no time or interest in walking the dog; others reported their dog was too ill-behaved for them to walk; still others said either the dog or they themselves were too old to walk.
People older than 65 years were most likely to meet the exercise guidelines through dog walking. Middle-aged people spent the least time dog walking, according to the study. Educations levels and gender had little impact on the amount of time spent walking with a dog, the study found.
People with lower incomes, specifically those under $20,000 a year, spent the most time walking their dogs each week (median was 104 minutes), according to the survey results.
The researchers also found that people with young dogs tended to get more exercise, and that small dogs get shorter walks than larger ones.
Based on the study results, the authors suggest that public health campaigns emphasize the health benefits of regular dog walking.
"If you only use dog walking to get your exercise, make sure you do it at least five times a week for 30 minutes," advised Jill Rubin, a physical therapist at Scott and White Healthcare in Round Rock, Texas.
"If you can't walk your dog that often, you'll need some sort of supplemental exercise to meet the recommendations," she added.
Learn more about how much physical activity you should be getting from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Mathew Reeves, D.V.M., Ph.D., associate professor, epidemiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing; Jill Rubin, M.P.T., physical therapist, Scott and White Healthcare, Ro
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