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Study Shows Children With Dogs Exercise More

A recent study from the University of Western Australia has revealed that children with dogs tend to exercise more. In a world where sedentary lifestyles are becoming more common, parents are continuously seeking ways to encourage their children to embrace more physical activity. And now, interestingly, their simple yet effective strategy to get their kids to exercise more could be – dog ownership.

Research shows connection between children who have dogs and exercise frequency

This research, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, reveals a noteworthy connection between children having dogs and an increase in their exercise frequency — per Scripps News.

The study followed children’s behavior as they transitioned from preschool to full-time school — a period when they go through significant changes in activity levels. It became evident that girls who acquired a dog saw an impressive 52-minute daily increase in lightly intense activities. In contrast, those who lost a dog during the study experienced a decrease in light physical activity by over an hour each day. Consequently, girls with new canine companions engaged in nearly 100 minutes more physical activity per day compared to their peers who no longer had a dog.

While the data regarding boys showed a less dramatic contrast, it nonetheless highlighted the positive impact of dog ownership on maintaining light physical activity levels during the critical transition to full-time school. Boys who never owned a dog saw their physical activity diminish by about 27.4 minutes per day, yet getting a dog reversed this trend, leading to a gain of approximately four minutes per day.

Specifically, boys with a dog averaged about 30 minutes more daily light physical activity than those who never had a pet. What’s more, boys who lost a dog during the study period managed to maintain their level of physical activity, unlike their female counterparts.

This study brings to light the fact that the benefits of having a dog extend beyond companionship. Owning a dog greatly influences young children’s movement behaviors in a gender-specific manner. It also aligns with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend significant amounts of physical activity for children of all ages to foster healthy development.

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