Sunday 15 September 2019

Calming: Why dogs really are a 'man's best friend'

Gerry Grennell with his dog Millie taking a walk at Sandymount in Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron
Gerry Grennell with his dog Millie taking a walk at Sandymount in Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron

Allison Bray

A dog is a man's, or woman's, best friend after all, especially for older adults, according to a new study by Trinity College researchers.

Especially if the adult in question is over the age of 50.

Scientists from the university's Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) found that dog owners over 50 who walk their pets at least three times a week report higher levels of physical activity, closer social relationships and more social leisure activities than those who don't have dogs or own other pets.

They are also more likely to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of walking per week and have better grip strength - which is a sign of muscle strength - than people who don't own dogs.

The study also showed dog owners had closer social relationships and more social leisure activities than those who don't own a dog or any pets.

It also comes as no surprise that people who walk their dogs at least three times a week have less lower-body fat than those who walk them less frequently, the study found.

Dublin acting coach Gerry Grennell, who was out walking Millie on Dublin's Sandymount Strand yesterday, wasn't surprised by the findings of the study.

"It's true. People say 'hi', I get exercise and the kids are happy. She also brings a sort of calm to the house," he said.

The Triinity study also revealed that close to half, or 45pc, of Irish adults over the age of 50 have pets, with dogs being the pet of choice over cats, at 38pc and 21pc respectively.

Irish Independent

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