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Dog owners are 68% more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity per week than non-dog owners, according to the latest research from the Dogs and Physical Activity study being conducted at the School of Population Health at the University of Western Australia.

"This finding is significant as it establishes a clear beneficial link between owning a dog and exercise, one of the primary preventative measures in decreasing the risk of Australia's leading cause of death and disability," said Mr Trevor Shilton, National Physical Activity Manager, Heart Foundation.

The author of the study, Ms Hayley Cutt, said that other results showed:

• 61% of dog owners accumulated the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, compared with 54% of non-owners.
• The likelihood of achieving the recommended level of physical activity per week was seven times higher for dog owners who walked with their dog five or more times per week compared with non-dog owners.
• Dog owners reported 55 more minutes of total physical activity per week than non-owners.
• Dog owners perceived their closest park or bushland in their neighbourhood to be closer to home than non-dog owners.

"Many people perceive heart disease as something that affects older people but unfortunately, cardiovascular disease can affect younger people as well as older members of the community," said Mr Shilton.

"People who live a healthy life can reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease and two of the key elements in a healthy life are getting sufficient exercise and reducing stress. It is increasingly clear from scientific research that dogs contribute positively in both these areas," he added.

"These results, which come from surveys with 1,800 people in Perth, indicate that creating supporting environments for physical activity is beneficial for dog owners as well as the general community," said Ms Cutt.

"We are currently analyzing data collected as part of the study to look at the amount and quality of open space that dog owners have access to and how this affects owners' levels of dog walking," she added.

A landmark 1992 study by the Baker Medical Research Institute published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that pet owners had lower levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease than non-pet owners.

Australia - A Nation of Pet Lovers
Australia is a nation of pet lovers. It is estimated that 63% of Australian households have some type of pet with 53% of these households owning a dog or a cat. Over many years, Australian and international research has shown that owning pets can help improve a person's mental and physical health, reduce the effects of stress; help children learn about responsibility, facilitate social interaction between people and build a sense of community.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 13/11/07 00:03 Views: 3387

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