Owning a dog may make older adults fitter

“Want to appear 10 years younger? Just buy a dog,” is the dubious claim on the Mail Online.

A study has found a link between dog ownership and increased physical activity in older adults, but how this is linked to looking younger is unclear.

Contrary to the headline, the study did not measure or mention physical appearance.

The study actually measured physical activity levels of 547 older adults in Tayside, Scotland. After taking factors such as weather, environment, medical illnesses and socioeconomic status into account, dog owners were 12% more physically active than people who did not own a dog.

The authors say that this difference was equivalent to the activity level of someone 10 years younger.

Although the study also revealed that dog owners had better general health and physical functioning, it cannot prove that this was due to owning a dog.

It should also be noted that these results are based on just 50 dog owners and so may not be generalisable to the whole population.

However, it is clear that exercise and walking are beneficial to physical and mental health and should be encouraged across all age groups.

So it is recommended that you go for regular “walkies”, whether or not you are accompanied by a canine companion.

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