Dog ownership appears to have associated health benefits as a result of increased physical activity through dog walking. This study examined the association between dog ownership and health-related physical activity among Japanese adults.
Male and female respondents to an Internet-based cross-sectional survey were divided into the following groups: dog owner (DOG), nondog pet owner (NDOG), and nonpet owner (NPOG). Moderate and vigorous physical activity amount (MVPA), walking amount (Walking), and sedentary behavior time (SB) were estimated from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Analyses of covariance and logistic regression analysis were used.
The differences in MVPA, Walking, and SB were statistically significant among the three groups. DOG had a significantly greater amount of MVPA than NDOG and NPOG. DOG also had a significantly greater amount of Walking and less SB time than NPOG, and DOG was 1.5 times more likely to meet the physical activity recommendation than NDOG and NPOG.
The dog owners had higher physical activity levels than owners of other kinds of pets and those without any pets, suggesting that dogs may play a major role in promoting physical activity. However, only 30% of the dog owners met the recommended criteria for physical activity.
The authors are with the Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Japan.