Dog ownership appears to make teens more active, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Virginia, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.
They surveyed 618 pairs of adolescents and their parents living in the Minneapolis area about the number of dogs in the home and how much time they spent physically active. About half of the teens also wore accelerometers — devices that measure activity — for one week.
The teens in dog-owning families logged about 15 additional minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week after the researchers controlled for factors such as gender and socioeconomic status.
Could it be that kids actually walk the family dog instead of the parents (after begging for a dog and promising their parents they would walk the dog)?
“Children and adolescents may not have the primary responsibility of walking the dog but may actively play with the family dog, thus contributing to their overall minutes engaging in physical activity,” the authors wrote.
Other studies show that adults who have dogs are more physically active. Even if people don’t walk their dogs regularly, just having a dog makes one more active because of chores such as getting up to feed the dog, letting it outside or cleaning up after it, the researchers said.