Here's a great article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it interesting! –Kim
Walking with Shelter Dogs Better than Friends for Seniors
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY
That's the finding from a study to be reported at the annual conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology that begins today in Kansas City.
In 12 weeks, the dog-walking seniors, ages 74 to 87, showed significant increases in walking speed, balance and confidence, important markers for older adults to avoid the "downward spiral" that occurs when they walk less, lose lower-body strength and isolate themselves socially, says the study's author, University of Missouri professor Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction.
The group assigned to walk with another person five days a week, the same frequency as the dog walkers, did not do as well. The reasons the dog walkers fared better, Johnson says: People in their 70s and 80s are devoted to volunteering, and the notion that "there was a dog that needed them" prompted them to arrive unfailingly for the walks. But those who walked with others engaged in "discouragement of each other," she says. If the weather wasn't good or one person wasn't feeling well, they would decide to shorten the walk or not walk at all. Seniors could benefit greatly if shelters organized dog-walking programs for senior, she says.
Source: Paw Print Post
Copyright © 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Also, see: How to Visit the Elderly with a Dog