Exercise Rx? Get a dog

Photo of Wile E. by K. Wachter

There’s even more data now to back up what many dog owners have long known: Dogs are good for your health, and dog walking is especially beneficial.  Researchers at George Washington University looked at the health of 916 non-dog owners, dog owners who walk their dogs, and dog owners who do not walk their dog. 

They found that individuals who regularly walk their canine pals reported fewer hours of sitting per day, lower body mass index (BMI), lower tobacco use, fewer chronic conditions and depressive symptoms, and greater social support. 

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Baltimore. The researchers concluded that dog walking should be encouraged in communities and funding should be reserved for innovative programs that incorporate the activity. They also suggested that more interventions are needed to target dog owners who don’t walk their dog.

In a twist of irony, when I contacted lead author Cindy Lentino to set up an onsite interview, she was not available.  She was home caring for a sick dog, who caught a gastrointestinal ailment from drinking dirty water during a walk.

—Kerri Wachter, @knwachter on Twitter

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Filed under Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Family Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Primary care, Sports Medicine

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