Dog Owners Walk the Walk — 22 Added Minutes and 2,760 Steps
Twenty-two is a beautiful — literally “heartfelt “– number and not just because it alliterates. Twenty-two represents the additional minutes dog-owning oldsters walked per day relative to their non-dog-owning peers according to an NPR-cited study published ten days ago in the journal BMC Public Health. Those twenty-two minutes translate to a whopping 2760 additional steps per day [10,030 for DOs versus 7269 NDOs]. Now THAT should paste a smile on any pedometer enthusiast’s face. Even better, these steps registered at moderate intensity. Since virtually all medical experts recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, the dog-walkers in the study regularly reached the recommended goal.
Why is this news? Studies have pointed to a connection for some time. Human Kinetics Journal published a 20-year meta-analysis of 29 studies documenting a correlation between dog ownership and walking. However, these previous studies relied upon self-reported measurements of physical activity. The carefully-controlled BMS study, by contrast, monitored its participants’ activity with highly accurate Active-PAL monitors for three one-week periods.
Does this mean ALL people should get dogs OR that ALL dog owners get the recommended minutes of physical activity at moderate to vigorous intensity? Nope! And nope! Dogs require a lot of work, $$, patience, training, and love. They demand sacrifices. While they’ll return an owner’s love ten-fold, sometimes ownership poses a hurdle too high.
On to that second “nope!” The study’s researchers cautioned that even their definitive correlation between dog owning and twenty-two additional minutes of walking comes with caveats. It matters whether one actually walks the dog. It matters whether one is the sole caretaker. Even the breed and dog temperament may have an effect; tiny teacup poodles and curious dogs that stop and sniff every two feet probably will not add 2,780 walked steps. These and other possible confounding variables need further evaluation according to the study’s authors.
Are dog-walking owners home free where their physical activity is concerned? Maybe not. The amount of time one sits plays a significant role in cardiac/vascular health. Dog-owners and non-dog-owners spent approximately the same amount of time sitting. In addition, the number and duration of prolonged sedentary events in both groups were approximately the same. Research shows that prolonged sitting has an adverse effect on health EVEN if one gets daily exercise.
As CEO of OneTweak, I chose a pedometer without a computer interface because plugging into the computer can easily trigger the urge to surf the web. Pedometers should trigger the urge to walk, not add to folks’ sitting-down time.
Mayo-Clinic researcher, James Levin, a leading “inactivity” expert, has deems excessive sitting a “lethal activity” according to this eye-opening New York Time’s article. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on the perfect sit-stand-move combination for folks in a high-tech universe.
Alas, the jury is NOT out on whether I need to get up from my desk. I’ve been SITTING in front of my computer WRITING about WALKING for hours. My back and blood vessels have been angrily yelling at me for too long. Even Bailey implores me.
Who is Baily, you may ask?
He’s the tri-color on cuteness overload. To be fair, all of Saussie Aussies’ Australian Shepherds’ rock out cuteness but Bailey’s special….cuz he’s mine. So this DOG-OWNER needs to clip on her OneTweak pedometer; this DOG needs to tuck into his halter and leash. And together, WE need to get our walk-on! Sooner rather than later.
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