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Get Doggone Healthy

Dog Walking Linked to Better Health in Older Adults 

Are you low on fitness motivation? You may not need a personal trainer—just recruit your dog! According to a 2016 study from Miami University, dogs may really be “man’s best friend” when it comes to better health for older adults. 

Using data from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study conducted by the University of Michigan, researchers studied the link between dog walking and health in 771 older adults. Not surprisingly, people who had greater attachment with their dog—that is, they thought of their dog as their friend—were more likely to walk their dog. Analysis showed people who walked their dogs were generally healthier—they had lower BMIs, fewer chronic conditions, and less frequent doctor visits.  

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and get moving. Though having a dog of your own may help incentivize lacing up your sneakers for a walk, don’t worry if you don’t have a pet. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, round up a group of friends, or simply grab your iPod and enjoy some time on your own. 

If you’re just starting out, ease in slowly and take a loop around the block or just go down the street and back. After a few days it will get easier and you will find that you can walk for longer.

Published July 1, 2016

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