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Dogs: a mother’s best friend for fitness
November 30th: Research from Deakin University, presented at today’s People, Pets and Planning conference, shows that the mothers and children in families with dogs spend significantly more time exercising than those in families without dogs.
“Dog ownership has been shown to be associated with increased levels of walking in adults, but until now less had been known about the association with physical activity and children,” says researcher Dr Jo Salmon from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.
“This latest research clearly shows that children and mothers in families who own a dog spend significantly more time exercising than those without a dog. Our findings include:
- Mothers are 70% more likely to meet physical activity recommendations if they own a dog;
- On average, younger girls with a dog performed 29 minutes more exercise than those without a dog; and
- 50% of younger children (aged 5 to 6) and 62% of older children (aged 10 to 12) walk the dog in a typical week.
“We believe the reasons for the increase in physical exercise among families where there is a dog may include the social interaction and sense of safety people feel in being out with their dog,” says Dr Salmon.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world and many people walk their dog regularly. Yet it is becoming harder to walk dogs because of the increasing restrictions that are placed on pets in public open space,” says town planner Ms Virginia Jackson, who also presented at the conference.
“It is relatively easy for local authorities to integrate pets into the community, thereby reinforcing the benefits communities and individuals experience from pet ownership. Town planning now provides for a range of community needs and it is important that we do not marginalise pet ownership,” says Ms Jackson.
Other presenters at the conference included:
- Dr Lisa Wood a research fellow with 17 years experience, who reported on the role pets play in connecting people to their neighbourhoods.
- Associate Professor Mardie Townsend, who presented the findings of her research into the health benefits gained when humans spend time with animals in natural settings.
- PhD candidate Lauren Prosser who discussed the health and well-being impacts of a visiting companion animal program in a hospital environment.
- Fay Gravenall, from the Eltham Recreational Walkers Group who presented on the importance of mixed-use recreational facilities, including parks and walking tracks.
Full program and slides available at Symposium website