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A girl’s best friend: How owning a dog helps moms-to-be stay physically active

Article / Review by on February 16, 2012 – 8:43 pmNo Comments

A girl’s best friend: How owning a dog helps moms-to-be stay physically active

A girl’s best friend: How owning a dog helps moms-to-be stay physically active

Past research has down that exercise during pregnancy benefits mom as well as baby by, among other things, helping the fetal cardiac system grow stronger and healthier. Now findings published online in PLoS One suggest that owning a dog can be a powerful motivator to get pregnant women moving.

In the first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the United States and England examined the relationship between pet ownership and physical activity levels among pregnant women. The team drew on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to gather data on more than 11,000 pregnant women in the United Kingdom, and they found:

Dog ownership was associated with an increased (1.5 times) likelihood of undertaking at least 3 hours per week of activity ‘enough to work up a sweat’. Dog owners showed increased levels of brisk walking, but not other types of activity, thus the specificity of the finding makes it more likely that the association is causal. In addition, the trend of increasing likelihood of dog ownership with higher levels of activity and more hours of brisk walking per week also suggests a real effect of owning a dog.

The study showed that, overall, mothers-to-be who owned dogs were approximately 50 percent more likely to stay physically active during their pregnancy. Funding for the research was provided by a grant from WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, a subsidiary of Mars Petcare.

By Lia Steakley
Stanford University Medical Center

Photo by Tomas Hellberg

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* Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions – Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

**  The above story is adapted from materials provided by Stanford University School of Medicine

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