Owning a dog can bring lots of benefits. One of them is that dog walking can increase your physical activity and help you keep fit.
Studies have shown that during childhood, dog-ownership is associated with a lower risk of obesity, and this is mainly because children spend lots of time walking and running with their dogs.
The benefit of dog walking is beyond the level of physical activity. It can also help improve heart function and increase heart attack survival.
In a study newly published in Obesity Medicine, researchers find that dog walking can benefit people who have central obesity (i.e. excessive fat around the stomach and abdomen).
Researchers tested 83 centrally obese adults who were about 30 years old. Of these, 46 were dog-owners and walked their dogs everyday.
Each participant reported body weight and height, and the Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated. Researchers also measured each person’s waist circumference, hips circumference, and body composition. Finally, dog weight was measured.
The result showed that among men, dog walking was related to reduced triceps and subscapular skinfolds and smaller hips circumference. Interestingly, dog-owners’ BMI correlated with their dogs’ weight.
Among women, walking dog was associated with lower perimeter of the hips, lower subscapular skinfolds and hips circumferences.
Researchers suggest that in centrally obese adults, dog walking can improve the size and proportion of several body parts. In addition, men seem to be the ones “gaining” more from dog walking.
In the future, researchers will test whether the benefits of walking dog is related to dog size. It is possible that larger dogs can bring more positive effects to men and women with obesity.
Moreover, dog walking should be included in programs designed to reduce heart disease risk, because dog walking can improve body shape in centrally obese people who have a high risk of heart attack.
Citation: Perantonaki M, et al. (2016). Centrally obese adults walking their dogs benefit from improved anthropometry in selected body sites. Obesity Medicine, 3: 17-19. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.obmed.2016.07.002.
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