Friday, 15th November 2019

Dogs for Health

We all ‘know’ that exercise is good for you and now there’s proof that walking with your four-legged friend can increase your life-expectancy.

A recent study found that dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of death, over the long term, compared to non-dog owners.

Dogs and mortality (human mortality that is)

The first study was a meta-analysis of 10 prospective studies including 3.8 million adults. It found that dog owners had a 24% lower risk for death over 10 years’ follow-up, compared with nonowners. Among those who were known to have coronary problems at the start of the study, mortality risk was 65% lower with dog ownership. The second study looked at the 10 year outcomes for 180,000 Swedish patients following either a heart attack or a stroke. Again there was a substantial survival benefit for dog owners. For heart attack patients who lived alone the death rate was reduced by 33% if they were dog owners – and by 15% for dog owners living with a partner/child.

What does that mean?

There are several mechanisms by which dog ownership might increase life expectancy. Maybe dog owners are healthier to start with, maybe there are psychological benefits which increase lifespan. Importantly, dog ownership confers an obligation to get off the sofa and get out there whatever the weather or state of disinclination, so “walkies” plays a part. The lessening of the effect for those who have a partner/child is due to the division of labour provided by a larger household.

Should I get a dog?

Well, perhaps. There a few thousand other considerations of course but if you do decide on the canine health protection route here is another one. If you use walking as your preferred exercise, the speed you go matters. A further recent study looking at walking speed and both mental and physical health at the age of 45 produced some startling results. A slow walking pace (less than 2.5 mph or 4 kph) was associated with signs of accelerating aging indicated by such factors as blood pressure, obesity, lung function and brain function. So stride out, don’t dawdle if you want the best out of your dog.

Kindly adapted from by Cardiac Rehab Founder Dr Hugh Bethell, where you can find all source information too.

Dogs for health

Find out more about the Cardiac Rehab centre

Back to the Top
Back to the top