The latest findings from a UK study of more than 14,000 pregnant women suggests that one of the answers to achieving the recommended levels of exercise during pregnancy could be as simple as walking the dog.
The study, Dog ownership during pregnancy, Maternal Activity and Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Study, 2012, found that pregnant women who were dog owners were 50 per cent more likely to achieve the recommended three hours of activity per week.
Susie Willis from the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS) in Australia says, ‘The researchers also noted that, as walking is a low risk exercise, the participation of pregnant women in dog walking could be useful as part of a broader strategy to improve activity levels.’
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a baby is born in Australia every two minutes, so the health and wellbeing of pregnant women is a key issue. And as Susie says, it’s not just pregnant women who could benefit from the research findings.
‘We know from research undertaken by Dr Hayley Christian at the University of Western Australia that dog owners, in general, are more likely to meet the recommended levels of exercise than non-dog owners,’ she says.
‘Dr Christian also identified that people who acquired a dog increased their recreational walking by 48 minutes per week,’ says Susie. ‘Of course, you don’t need to own a dog to achieve the increased levels of activity but this research indicates that there is a clear association between dog ownership and increased physical activity.’
Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino