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Dog owners have more active children

23rd September 2010

UK researchers have said that children in families which owned dogs took more exercise than those without the pets.

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The team, from St George's, University of London, were examining the heart health of children from 78 city primary schools around the country.

The researchers monitored the activity levels of a sample of more than 2,000 children, aged nine and ten. The measurements included counting the number of steps walked and how long each child spent doing different levels of exercise.

They discovered that in families which owned dogs, both male and female children took more exercise.

Around one in 10 children in London, Leicester and Birmingham were members of families which owned dogs.

The increased physical activity for children in dog-owning families could suggest that children went on walks with their parents and the dog, or spent time at home playing with the dog.

However, the team said the study did not prove if having a dog made families more likely to exercise, or whether more active families had an increased likelihood of owning a dog.

"It's a bit of a chicken and egg question. Long-term studies are needed to answer it, but it may be a bit of both", says Christopher Owen, senior lecturer in epidemiology at St George's.

 

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