In case we didn’t have enough reasons already to love the dogs in our lives [Hi Lucca! — Amelia], science has found that dog owners’ physical activity is the equivalent to someone roughly 10 years younger. A study published in the journal Preventative Medicine took a look at the lives of 547 elderly people (their average age was 79) living within 60 miles of each other.
The participants who had dogs experienced notably lower levels of anxiety and depression, and it was also found that dog owners’ pups had a tendency to encourage them to include physical activity in their day that they otherwise would have skipped. The daily exercise prompted by the doggies can lead to a whole slew of secondary health boosts like a stronger immune system and healthier bones and muscles.
The dogs assisted their elderly humans in overcoming obstacles like bad weather, worries over personal safety, and lack of social support that can keep people cooped up and sedentary. Dog walking in around the neighborhood was also thought to help study participants stay more socially active by offering them a means of meeting others in their community.
Dr. Zhiqiang Feng of St. Andrews University, the researcher behind the study, hopes that dog-sharing programs will grow in popularity, as these could allow elderly folks to enjoy the health benefits of hanging out with dogs without the expense that comes with caring for them.
Feng also suggested that elderly people without dogs take up some kind of social media networking to replace the benefits that dogs bring. That’s right, the glee of Twitter and OKCupid are nothing but mererunner-ups to how happy puppies can make us (but we knew that already, didn’t we?). Rescue a dog, it’s for your health!