Access to dog-friendly walking environments and better
education about dog's physical needs, could all motivate people to get out and
take more exercise with their pets, found researchers from the University of
Liverpool in the United Kingdom.
Researchers estimated that 40 percent of dog owners don't
take their dogs for a walk. In the UK, almost a quarter of households own a
dog, but less than half of adults meet the necessary level of 150 minutes a
week of physical activity.
"It is easy to assume that people who own dogs are more
likely to take exercise, but the reality can be very different. If all people
who owned a dog walked with it every day, physical activity levels would be
much improved, benefiting the health of both the owners and their canine
companions," said Carri Westgarth, lead author of the study.
For the study, researchers from the University's
Institute of Infection and Global Health
analyzed 31 studies from the UK,
USA, Australia and Japan. Among the most common findings was that dog owners
have a varied understanding of how much physical activity their dog needs. This
influenced how much they took their dog for a walk and this is something that
could be addressed with education programs.
Researchers noted that people without access to high quality
local areas that support dog walking, for example parks where dogs are allowed
off-leash and poo-disposal facilities are provided, were less likely to walk
with their dog and missed out on the associated health benefits.
The research was published in the International Journal
of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity