Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that older adults who also are pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions.
Dog walking is associated with lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, more frequent exercise and an increase in social benefits for seniors.
"Our study explored the associations between dog ownership and pet bonding with walking behavior and health outcomes in older adults," said Rebecca Johnson, a professor at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
"This study provides evidence for the association between dog walking and physical health using a large, nationally representative sample," she added.
The study analysed 2012 data from the Health and Retirement study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. It included data about human-animal interactions, physical activity, and frequency of doctor visits and health outcomes of the participants.
Results from the study also indicated that people with higher degrees of pet bonding were more likely to walk their dogs and to spend more time walking their dogs each time than those who reported weaker bonds. Additionally, the study showed that pet walking offers a means to socialize with pet owners and others.
Retirement communities also could be encouraged to incorporate more pet-friendly policies such as including dog walking trails and dog exercise areas so that their residents could have access to the health benefits, Johnson said
A team of researchers has come up with a new blood treatment technology that could make blood transfusions in high risk malaria zones safer.
The new trial suggests that treating donated blood with a cocktail of UV radiation and vitamin B is safe and could minimise the risk of malaria infection following blood transfusions.
Lead author Jean-Pierre Allain from the University of Cambridge said that testing for parasites such as malaria is expensive and until now, there have been no technologies capable of treating whole blood, which is most commonly used in transfusions in sub-Saharan Africa.
Allain noted thatthis is the first study to look at the potential of pathogen-reduction technology in a real-world treatment setting and finds that although the risk of malaria transmission is not completely eliminated, the risk is severely reduced.
The technology is currently in the testing phase, and the authors add that further studies, in larger population groups, and in particular at risk populations such as young children and pregnant mothers are now needed.
The study is published ahead of World Malaria Day, 25th April, in The Lancet.