"On average, older dog owners were 12% more active than their counterparts who did not own a dog," Feng added.
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The study that involved 547 elderly people showed that dog owners were not only more physically active, but their levels of activity were the equivalent of people 10 years younger.
"Our results suggest that dog ownership may motivate personal activity and enable older people to overcome many potential barriers such as lack of social support, inclement weather and concerns over personal safety," Feng said.
The research was published in the journal Preventive Medicine.