October 24, 2005

stay fit! loan a dog!

so if you're overweight and have a dog, you'll spend more time walking than if you're overweight and don't have a dog. d'oh!*
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Dogs may be more than man's best friend; they may also be a tool for losing weight, according to a new study that shows making a commitment to walk a dog -- your own or someone else's -- leads to increased exercise and weight loss.

The goal of the study, according to Rebecca Johnson, was to encourage sedentary overweight people to exercise and specifically to walk.

"We know that walking is good for people but we don't know how to get people to continue to do it. We wanted to see whether bonding with a dog might be a motivator to continue walking," said Johnson, who is an associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The dog-walkers in the study started by walking 10 minutes per day three times per week and eventually walked up to 20 minutes per day 5 days per week. One group walked for 50 weeks while another walked for only 26 weeks.

For the study, the participants walked with loaner dogs -- trained and certified "visitor" animals that were provided by the Pet Assisted Love and Support (PALS) Program. According to Johnson, the 50-week walkers lost an average of 14 pounds during the one-year program. "That's a better result than most of the nationally known weight-loss plans," she told Reuters Health.

if that's what a loaner dog can do, just imagine how motivated people will be by their own dogs (who will probably not be satisfied with one 20min walk a day).

* d'oh has of course been popularized by homer simpson, but it was by no means an invention by simpson creator matt groening. the original script just asked for an "annoyed grunt". the following quote (from the oed) is from an interview with dan castanellaneta, who provides the voice for homer simpson:

1998 Daily Variety (Nexis) 28 Apr., The D'oh came from character actor James Finlayson's “Do-o-o-o” in Laurel & Hardy pictures. You can tell it was intended as a euphemism for “Damn”. I just speeded it up.
it's clearly related to the imitative interjection duh, which has been around the block for a while (at least since 1943, according to the oed). here's a nice quote:

1963 N.Y. Times Mag. 24 Nov. 54/2 A favorite expression is ‘duh’... This is the standard retort used when someone makes a conversational contribution bordering on the banal. For example, the first child says,‘The Russians were first in space.’ Unimpressed, the second child replies (or rather grunts), ‘Duh’.
i still don't know what the odd spelling is supposed to signify. french ennui?

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