An international study has found dog walkers are physically active on more days of the week and dog walking can help people feel safer in their neighborhood.
The study carried out by Dr Hayley Christian from The University of Western Australia in collaboration with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, in Liecestershire, part of Mars Petcare, is the first of its kind to consistently examine the relationship between dog walking, physical activity and people’s perception of safety in their community.
More than 1,000 dog owners from Perth, Australia and three US cities (San Diego, Nashville and Portland) were surveyed in the Pet Connections study, which has been published in BMC Public Health
The research found that people who walked their dog achieved at least 30 minutes of physical activity on more days per week than non-dog walkers, helping them to meet the World Health Organization recommendation of at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
The study also highlights the broader community benefits of pet ownership. Nearly 60% of dog walkers in Australia and the US reported feeling safer when walking with their dog, and women who walked their dogs were more likely than men to feel safer.
The study highlights the physical and social benefits for individuals and communities, and the need to integrate dog walking into health programs and policies.