Activity booster: Get a dog

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Published: September, 2017

Need a little motivation to get more active? Owning a dog may help, suggest authors of a small observational study published June 9, 2017, in BMC Public Health. Researchers looked at the self-reported activities of 43 pairs of dog owners and non-owners, all of them ages 65 or older. Three times during the yearlong study, participants wore fitness monitors for a week and noted their activities. Compared with non-owners, dog owners took an extra 2,760 steps per day and got an extra 22 minutes of moderate-intensity walking per day. Scientists didn't notice a difference between the groups when it came to the total amount of time spent sitting. But 22 minutes of daily walking meets the public health guidelines of a minimum 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. If you have trouble with balance or walking, however, owning a dog that can potentially get in your way could be a fall hazard.

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