Dog owners feel more positive about their neighbourhood, do more exercise, and appear to fall asleep more easily than non-dog owners

In August 2018 researchers from the UK published the results of their study to assess the association between pets and sleep, health, exercise and feelings about the local neighbourhood. 6,575 individuals, aged between 59 and 79 years, were included in the study.  Relevant information was collected via questionnaire, and in addition the individual’s cognitive status was assessed.  Two out of seven individuals owned a pet and of those 64% were “very” attached to their pet. Results showed that all pet owners undertook significantly more mild-moderate exercise than non-owners, with dog owners undertaking more exercise than other pet owners. However, there was no significant difference between pet owners and non-owners with respect to the amount of vigorous exercise undertaken. Pet owners also appeared to be significantly more positive about their neighbourhood than non-owners, with dog owners significantly more positive than owners of other pets. Associations with sleep were mixed, although dog owners had less trouble falling asleep than non-dog owners.

Mein G et al.  A cross-sectional exploratory analysis between pet ownership, sleep, exercise, health and neighbourhood perceptions: the Whitehall II cohort study. BMC Geriatr. 2018 Aug 9;18(1):176

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