A heartwarming and uplifting study about seniors recently performed at Florida State University has confirmed what most of us already knew.
Dogs really are our best friends, especially for seniors
Two doctoral students, Ashley Artese and Brandon Grubbs, at the university developed a workout program in conjunction with a local retirement community to show that exercising with dogs can increase the overall benefits for both humans and canines. A group of seniors entered an exercise program where half worked with certified therapy dogs and the other half did not. The group with the dogs, named Bogey, Lola, and Stryker, were also given time to get to know the dogs and their handlers.
Three times a week, Artese and Grubbs take both groups through an exercise program. Walking around the room, biceps curls with light dumb bells, and resistance band stretching are all a part of the routine. When the group working with dogs lift their dumb bells, Bogey picks up a plastic one. And when the seniors walk around the room, Lola, Stryker, and Bogey walk in circles too.
Pet therapy dogs have already proven extremely effective in lifting the spirits of seniors in nursing homes or hospitals. It stands to reason that interaction with these trained dogs can help individuals who are still healthy maintain their current level of health and remain happier and more active.
How to get more activity
Regardless of the outcome of the study, there would never be any downside to establishing exercise programs for seniors and therapy dogs on the local level.
Talk with your local senior center and canine therapy providers to see about establishing a program in your community. If you have a dog of your own, they may not be trained to lift weights or walk around a gym with you, but they can still be effective exercise partners. Don’t forget the health benefits of a simple walk around the block with your best friend at your side.
What do you think about incorporating dogs with senior exercise programs?