March 16, 2011

Dogs and Fitness

New York Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope makes what are by now the usual arguments that dog ownership — sometimes —makes people fitter.
Unlike other studies of dog ownership and walking, this one also tracked other forms of exercise, seeking to answer what the lead author, Mathew Reeves, called an obvious question: whether dog walking “adds significantly to the amount of exercise you do, or is it simply that it replaces exercise you would have done otherwise?”

The answers were encouraging, said Dr. Reeves, an associate professor of epidemiology at Michigan State. The dog walkers had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activity than the other subjects, and they were more likely to take part in other leisure-time physical activities like sports and gardening. On average, they exercised about 30 minutes a week more than people who didn’t have dogs.
 But plenty of dogs are still just four-legged yard art:
The researchers asked owners who didn’t walk their pets to explain why. About 40 percent said their dogs ran free in a yard, so they didn’t need walks; 11 percent hired dog walkers.
 And it's not just walking. This morning, for instance, I took a long-handled shovel up to the Forest Service road to bury a skunk, dead of disease or from the infrequent traffic there, I don't know which.

I just did not want Fisher to find it and bring it home as a new chew toy.

So, researchers, you may count grave-digging as dog-related exercise too.


Camera Trap Codger said...

I'd like to see the data sorted by breed groups -- the little fuzzy bug-eyed lap dogs and the working breeds, for starters. You don't see many joggers and bikers with chihuahuas and pugs.

Janeen said...

Putting your dog out into the yard alone is a great way to end up with a bored, fat dog with problem behavior. Unfortunately it appears to be getting to be the norm more than the exception.

Even when I don't feel well I go out with mine and toss frisbees or do some training work with them at least a couple of times a day. The mental stimulation part of exercise is just as important as the physical.

Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Essential Oils) said...

What a shame that people will own dogs but not develop a relationship with them. Dogs can have such great health benefits when you bond with them through exercise, both for the body and mind.