Elderly people benefit from owning a dog

Dog, Elderly puppyPuppy Dog

Research team finds that older people benefit significantly from getting a dog

A dog may be more important for the elderly than a fitness centre, is showed in new British research.


The research, that consisted of a focus group of three thousand British people aged between 49 and 91, showed that the elderly who walked their dog got up on their feet for 30 minutes longer every day than those who didn’t own a dog. The study was carried out by the University of East Anglia, and was first mentioned in Research.no.

Half an hour’s difference is much longer than the researchers usually see when actions are taken to encourage older people to move more, such as organised trimming, or visits to the fitness center.

Hard to get out alone

Anne Malmgren Molstad, who is 65, doesn’t doubt what is best. She has gotten clearly better mental, and physical, health with the help of her dog, ‘Micco’.

‘I am moving so much, as you have to go out every morning, and every night. Many people I know who don’t have a dog notice that it’s hard to get out.

Molstad tried a fitness centre for a long period of time, but she felt she benefited more from the walk with her dog in fresh air.

‘I gradually grew very tired of training, so I went a long while without going, because I simply didn’t enjoy it,’ said Molstad.

‘Get a dog!’

She would recommend the dog to all elderly people who have the option for it.

‘Just a little movement has a lot of benefits for older people. Get a little dog, as it needs smaller trips, and isn’t as strong as the big ones’.

At age 76, Bjørg Hageløkken has a dog named ‘Sita’ with her husband, who is 82. They thank Sita for their good health, and not only because of the walks.

‘We get more movement inside the house as well, it is often cared for and fed. It’s a shame that some housing companies are strict about dog ownership, as it’s so important for the elderly.’

The weather is no obstacle

The research showed that those who have a dog to go out walking with were more active on the days with the worst weather than those who didn’t have a dog were on the sunniest days. Hageløkken said that the dog must get their walk either way.

‘You have to go out. In winter, you can buy good shoes, and ice spikes if it’s icy. If you go out, you firm up all your muscles, at least if you play with the dog as well.’

She advises senior citizens to get a small dog.

‘Older people should buy a small dog that they can handle. They can certainly gain a better quality of life, and longer lives, if they do,’ said Bjørg Hageløkken.


© NRK / Norway Today