By Alex Cooke
This is not an attempt to besmirch the much loved domestic cat. I love cats but you can’t go walkies with a cat (not really). Older people need to go for walks. They need to exercise. They need to be encouraged to exercise. Especially when the weather is bad.
“When we looked at how the amount of activity participants undertook each day varied by weather conditions, we were surprised at the differences between those who walked dogs and the rest of the participants.” — Yu-Tzu Wu (Cambridge University)
Researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Cambridge discovered that owning a dog naturally resulted in walking with their dog which in turn was one of the most effective ways to beat an old person’s decline in activity levels especially during bad weather in the winter.
The research has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The researchers analyzed information from a long-term study which tracked the health and welfare of thousands of people in the county of Norfolk, UK.
Two thirds of dog owners walked their dogs at least once a day and 18% of people with an average age of 69 years and six months had a dog. The total number of participants in the research study was 3123.
The important conclusion is that regular dog walkers were more active on days when the weather was the poorest than non-dog owners were on the days when the weather was at its best.
The findings indicate that dog ownership supports physical maintenance in elderly people and could be described as a part of an exercise regime. Dog walking is impossible for some elderly people. Perhaps the local authority could step in and organse community doog walking groups?
Dog walking is also a very sociable event. Elderly people can be lonely. They need to meet people. Dog walking can assist in this objective. We know that there are many elderly women who like to look after a cat for company.
Playing devils advocate, I wonder if lonely, elderly people should consider adopting a dog rather than a cat for company. A dog can introduce an owner to others and so the company becomes human whereas the cat owner adopts a cat to seek company and friendship from the cat.
Any thoughts anyone?
Source: the research document via the Times Newspaper
Photo montage added by PoC Admin.