For older adults who share a special bond with pets like dog, walking can benefit in lowering body mass index (BMI), cause fewer doctor visits and more frequent exercises, and increase in their social circle, finds a study.
People with higher degrees of pet bonding were more likely to walk their dogs and to spend more time walking their dogs each time than those who reported weaker bonds, the researchers found.
“Our study explored the associations between dog ownership and pet bonding with walking behaviour and health outcomes in older adults,” said Rebecca Johnson from University of Missouri-Columbia in the US.
The team analysed 2012 data from the “Health and Retirement” study that included data about human-animal interactions, physical activity, frequency of doctor visits and health outcomes of the participants.
“The results showed that dog ownership and walking were related to increases in physical health among older adults,” said Johnson.
The findings can provide the basis for medical professionals to recommend pet ownership for older adults and can be translated into reduced health care expenditures for the ageing population.
The results also revealed that pet walking offers a means to socialise with pet owners and others.
“The study provides evidence for the association between dog walking and physical health,” the researchers added in the paper published in the journal The Gerontologist.