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Grab the leash: Dog walkers more likely to reach exercise benchmarks
Date:3/10/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. Man's best friend may provide more than just faithful companionship: A new study led by a Michigan State University researcher shows people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.

The results, said epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, show that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity become healthier.

"Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people," Reeves said. "What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity."

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

Using data from the Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, an annual health survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Community Health, Reeves and his team found that not only did owning and walking a dog impact the amount of walking a person does but also that dog walkers were more active overall.

The study showed people who walked their dogs generally walked about an hour longer per week than people who owned dogs but did not walk them.

"Obviously you would expect dog walkers to walk more, but we found people who walked their dog also had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activities," he said. "There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking."

The study analyzed the amount of leisure-time physical activity a person gets; examples include sports participation, exercise conditioning and recreational activities such as walking, dancing and gardening. Pub
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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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