Dogs Improve Health and Happiness

Dogs help health and happinessResearch carried out by the University of Portsmouth has found that dogs motivate people to exercise by encouraging their owners to go out and walk every day even when they didn't feel like it.

The study found that dog owners felt obliged to walk their dogs despite bad weather or even if they were feeling low, but that they always felt better once they were out.

Participants in the study also reported a better overall sense of well-being because dog walking resulted in socialising with other like-minded people, leaving them feeling better in mind as well as body.

Many participants in the study were pensioners, some living alone, some widowed, and some recovering from illness or operations. They discussed occasions when they had felt lonely, isolated, depressed but reported that their dogs helped them stay physically fitter by encouraging them to exercise, and mentally through bringing them into social contact, often with others in similar situations to themselves.

Younger participants discussed how dog walking led to quality family time because dog walking is an activity adults and children can enjoy. Parents were pleased that children would leave behind the television and computer and get some fresh air and exercise by walking the dog.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth talked to 65 dog owners who walked their pets at 12 popular sites in Hampshire including the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Itchen Valley Country Park.

Sarah Knight, of the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘The aim of the project was to look at attitudes to the management of dog-walking, but what we found was that people really wanted to tell us about the many benefits of walking their dogs.’

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