Health benefits - Walking the dog

IT is strange to observe but gratifying to know that walking a dog in summer has the effect of keeping older people more physically active during the dark days of winter.

Research suggests that the habit of being up and about is carried through all year round.

While it has long been established that owning a dog — or any pet — has a positive effect on the mental health of the elderly, the physical component is more pronounced than previously thought.

Just as doing crosswords, reading books and newspapers will help to ward off dementia, being active will keep us physically health. The HSE advises that physical activity does not have to be strenuous, saying: “The level best suited for older people is described as ‘moderate intensity’, practised for at least 30 minutes five or more days of every week.”

That could be easily accomplished with a jaunty walk with your dog or even a neighbour’s pet. Of course, whether the activity is of “moderate intensity” or not may depend on whether you are walking a chihuahua or a springer spaniel.

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