The correlation between pet ownership and our mental and physical well-being has been well-documented.  Sharing our lives with dogs, cats, and other companion animals makes us happy, and has health benefits like lowering stress and blood pressure.  But owning a dog and taking your best friend outside for regular walks and play sessions can be particularly beneficial for sedentary older adults.

A study published in the journal BMC Public Health examined the physical activity of seniors living in a retirement community, and compared the activity levels of dog owners versus non-dog owners.  43 pairs of dog owners and non-dog owners were studied, using both activity monitoring devices and detailed questionnaires.

The results?  The dog owners demonstrated a significantly greater amount of time engaging in physical activity than those seniors who did not have dogs.  They spent an average of 22 additional minutes per day walking.  Measured in steps, they walked around 2760 more steps per day than the non-dog owners.  The walking was of a moderate intensity.  The dog owners also had fewer “sitting events” than the more sedentary non-dog owners.

The happy conclusion?  In addition to the many mental health benefits of dog ownership, it can be an important way to incorporate regular, healthy activity into the lives of seniors.


22 thoughts on “Study Finds Dog Ownership Significantly Improves the Health of Seniors

  1. When I went from a senior dog to an 8 month old collie/shepard mix (we thought he was two when we rescued him) we went from casual walks and weekend mountain expeditions to so many daily miles on foot and bike that I stopped counting. Just kept walking till he showed signs of exertion haha. I think I’ll keep dogs of all ages around, people will ask me how I stay so young, and I’ll say “my dogs”. Great post!

    1. That is so awesome! We have cats and I will admit to being jealous of all those outdoorsy dogs and their people going on fun adventures together. Makes me want to rent a pup for the weekend! 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I do see that as a fact. We see that everyday with our dogs. They do get us out and about when it is easier to stay in the house.

    Thank you, Gary

  3. Oh yes, great post! My mother is proof – two dogs, a couple of miles every day with them, 76 years old and I am willing to bet she’d give Mo Farrah a run for his money…😸🏃

  4. Thank you for this post! My grandparents recently lost their Yorkie unexpectedly to cancer and are devastated to say the least. Despite being dog lovers, they are adamant that their dog-owning days are over. With the help of this article, I hope to someday encourage them that perhaps adopting an older dog from a shelter would be a great fit for them!

    1. Sometimes our first reaction after the death of a beloved pet is to say never again…but that feeling does fade with time as we realize how many animals out there need good homes. Thanks for sharing!!

      1. I would certainly agree. Their loss is still so new and fresh, and it is evident they are still in the beginning stages of grieving. With time, they may warm up to the idea of a new pup!

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