Health impact of dog walking is so ‘pawsitive’

Taking the dog for a walk accounts for just under a third of the population's walking.
Taking the dog for a walk accounts for just under a third of the population's walking.

A survey commissioned by Scotland’s walking charity has revealed that Scots’ physical activity is significantly boosted thanks to their furry four-legged friends.

Paths for All’s data reveals 30 per cent of the population’s walking can be accredited to dog walking.

It also showed that of those walking their dogs, the majority were aged 16-24, and the general trend showed that with age, dog walking became less common.

The general figures showed that Scots are walking more than they did five years ago.

Most listed a change in personal circumstances for their reason for the increase, and within that category, becoming a dog owner was the most influential change with 15 per cent of the vote.

Dog walking was also most prominent among the working population, those with children and those living in rural areas.

The loss of a dog also had a negative impact on the walking activity of some.

The general population reported that they choose to walk for the health benefits (78 per cent), because it’s good for the environment (62 per cent) and because it helps them to relax (72 per cent).

Ian Findlay CBE, chief officer at Paths for All, said: “The survey has shared some interesting insights into just how much our four-legged companions positively influence their owners’ walking activity.

“An everyday dog walk can have a considerable impact on your physical, social and mental health – the benefits shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Then benefits of walking include helping to manage or prevent various conditions – including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes – maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your mood.

Ian added: “We strongly believe that Scotland has the potential to become one of the most walking friendly countries in the world and, as we work towards this, it’s heart-warming to think that our dogs are giving us a helping paw along the way.”

Fifty five per cent of Scots surveyed reported that they walk every day and, among those that did, 23 per cent did so to walk their dog.

In Scotland there are approximately 550,000 dogs, with 21 per cent of the population, or some 471,000 households, being dog-owners.