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Animal Assisted Exercise For Health
Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD and Alexandra Andrews

A moderate amount of regular exercise is important to promote a healthy lifestyle. A recent article showed that physical exercise could help improve cognitive function, as well as decrease anxiety and depression.7,8

Studies have shown owning and walking a dog daily promotes better physical activity in children, adults and seniors.9,10 Increasing regular physical activity in adults at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease is an important target for preventive medicine. Research has shown that it's easier to be physically active and stick with an exercise program when there is a social support partner.11

Dog ownership was associated with physical activity and walking. Dog owners had 57% to 77% higher physical activity compared to those not owning dogs.12 The reason is that companion dogs have been shown to be excellent exercise buddies and can be counted on as loyal weight loss partners. Dog ownership is associated not only with better exercise but also with weight control. "Given the importance of social support and physical activity in weight loss, 'Do you own a dog?' or 'Have you considered buying a dog?' should be included in the medical history for overweight and obese patients."13,14

The role of exercise and diet as preventive measures comprises hundreds of studies. They have shown a reduction of the risks of medical problems, comorbidities, toxic side effects, second cancers and increased survival and quality of life.

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