A note from the editor
In the last few issues of the newsletter, we have looked at some practical ways to increase physical activity. For some time when I have talked about getting more active, I have highlighted how it would be considered cruel if dogs were not walked on a daily basis, but yet many of us do not think this applies to humans.
Two colleagues of mine have recently acquired puppies, so office conversation has moved to canine matters, and lead us to ask the question about what we know about dogs and health. Professor Nanette Mutrie (Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh) has kindly provided us with a summary, and we have added some photos so you can see the new additions to the SCPN team!
Could walking your dog improve your health?
A number of studies have shown that physical activity levels are higher for adults who own dogs than those who do not own dogs.1, 2 This may not be surprising since dogs demand to be taken out for toileting and most dogs love to play or go for long walks. This level of physical activity becomes routine since these demands are, of course, made by dogs at least two or three times in the day. This is where the advantage lies because the person walking the dog is now walking in a habitual way on a daily basis, without thinking too hard about ‘when can I fit some activity in for myself today?’. This routine level of physical activity will have substantial physical and mental health benefits. We have now seen some innovative research which aims to help adults or children to become more active by focussing on increasing walking and playing with the dog.3
There are also additional benefits to owning a dog.4 The bond between human and dog may be psychologically important and may offer social opportunities. Some workplaces encourage owners to bring their dogs to work because this improves the working environment. We also know that for those with particular needs trained dogs can provide support such as guide dogs, hearing dogs or dogs that remind people about medications.
In Scotland there are approximately 800,000 dogs and so, if you own one, be glad that the dog demands to be taken out for a walk and perhaps even consider walking a longer route tomorrow! And if you don’t have a dog ——- take it for a walk anyway!
This article was originally published in the SCPN Newsletter, Volume 4, Issue 4.
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