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Exercise: the canine connection

U.S. study shows dog owners exercise more than others

Washington: Dedicated dog owners spend more time exercising than their urban neighbours without pet dogs, said a study in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"There's this extra dog obligation that helps get people up and out for their exercise," said author Shane Brown, a physical education instructor and researcher at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Mr. Brown and co-author Ryan Rhodes surveyed 177 men and 174 women between age 20 and 80 in Greater Victoria and found that the 70 dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes a week, compared to 168 minutes a week forthe others.

However, other than walking, dog owners exercised less than non-owners, suggesting that when dog lovers go on walks, they do it partly because they choose to be active with their pets. "A feeling of obligation to the dog explained 11 per cent of the variance of getting out there and actually doing the behaviour," Mr. Brown said.

Equal time

Women and men spent equal time walking their dogs. Time spent on strenuous physical activity, either walking or other forms of exercise, was similar for owner and non-owners.

"There's a lot of common sense around the idea that if people have dogs in an urban setting, they're going to walk a lot," said Sylvia Moore, Ph.D., director of the Division of Medical Education and Public Health at the University of Wyoming.

Both she and Mr. Brown point out that community infrastructure such as dog-walking parks may play a role in determining how active pet owners will be. — ANI

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