If you are on the fence about getting a family dog, perhaps a new study out of St George’s University of London will provide the push you need.
According to researchers, children whose families own dogs are more physically active than those who don’t.
Using activity monitors to record daily movement levels over a period of seven days, researchers studied 2,065 children ages nine and ten. What they discovered was that kids in families with dogs spent an average of 325 minutes each day engaged in some sort of physical activity. That’s 11 minutes more than the kids in families without dogs.
In addition, the dog-owning kids spent 11 minutes less being sedentary and took 360 more steps than the kid without dogs.
But while the results are clear – the dog owners got more exercise than the non-dog owners – lead researcher Dr. Christopher Owen says the question is really which came first, the desire to exercise or the dog?
The more active lifestyles of children from dog-owning families is really interesting – is it that owning a dog makes you more active or that more active families choose to have a dog? It’s a bit of a chicken and egg question. Long-term studies are needed to answer it, but it may be a bit of both.
Previous studies have found then when a adults get a dogs, they become more physically active. So it’s really no surprise that the dog-effect would trickle down to younger members of the household.
But how much exercise a dog inspires can vary greatly. I have a large, fully-fenced back yard and a 12-pound dog. The only workout I get with her is opening and closing the back door and lifting her up onto my bed each night.