Making Exercise Effortless at Any Age

Higher levels of activity recommended for all ages

(LAUREN CAHN, READERS DIGEST) Whatever your age, staying active is super-important, not just for weight control but also for many other health benefits.

For older adults, regular physical activity can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that older adults get at least 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, in either case, including aerobic exercise.

Unfortunately, the best exercise intentions are sometimes met by the most inconvenient of reality checks.

For example, icky weather (think: blistering heat, dreary drizzles, knee-deep snow conditions) can sideline even the most motivated movers.

Luckily, a growing body of evidence suggests that dog ownership is associated with higher levels of physical activity in adults in all ages, and now a new study out of the United Kingdom has found that owning a dog may be exactly what older people, in particular, need to motivate past poor weather conditions.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was designed to investigate the role of dog ownership and dog walking as a means of supporting the maintenance of a regular program of physical activity in older adults, even during periods of inclement weather.

Using data from existing research, the researchers analyzed how many minutes each of 3,123 people spent engaged in physical versus sedentary activity (measured using step-counters) over a seven-day period.

They then looked at the weather conditions corresponding to those days. Finally, the researchers looked at which of the participants were dog owners.

What they researchers found was that among the 18 percent who reported having a dog in their household, two-thirds walked their dogs at least once per day. READ THE FULL STORY AT READERS DIGEST.