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Katie Potter, Robert T. Marcotte, Greg J. Petrucci, Caitlin Rajala, Deborah E. Linder, and Laura B. Balzer

, 2014 ). One pilot randomized trial ( n  = 58) that focused on the benefits of dog walking for canine health found increases in dog owners’ steps/day, total walking minutes per week, and total dog walking minutes per week, although dog owners in the standard control condition also improved ( Rhodes

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Koichiro Oka and Ai Shibata

Background:

Exploring the detailed pattern and correlates of dog walking is crucial to designing effective interventions to increase the proportion of dog walkers. The current study examined the prevalence and pattern of dog walking, the association between dog walking and health-related physical activity, and the correlates of dog walking among dog owners in Japan.

Methods:

Japanese dog owners’ (n = 930) responses to an Internet-based cross-sectional survey were analyzed. A self-reported measure of physical activity, dog walking characteristics, and sociodemographic and dog-specific variables were obtained. Analyses of covariance and multivariate logistic regressions were used.

Results:

Overall, 64.4% of the surveyed dog owners walked their dogs. On an average, they walked their dogs 214.1 ± 189.5 minutes per week. The dog walkers were 3.47 times more likely to meet physical activity recommendations, were significantly less likely to be unmarried (OR = 0.61), and had higher levels of attachment with their dogs (OR = 2.32) than the nondog walkers.

Conclusion:

The findings confirmed that dog walking significantly helps dog owners meet physical activity recommendations for health and revealed that dog-specific factors such as dog attachment might be stronger correlates of dog walking than sociodemographic factors.

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Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, Kaitlyn Radius, David R. Black, Randall J. Gretebeck, Rosemary Ziemba, and Lawrence T. Glickman

Background:

Regular walking improves overall health and functional ability of older adults, yet most are sedentary. Dog ownership/pet responsibility may increase walking in older adults. Goals of this study were to identify factors that influence older adult walking and compare physical activity, functional ability and psychosocial characteristics by dog ownership status.

Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, older adults (65−95 years of age, n = 1091) completed and returned questionnaires via postal mail. Measures included: Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, Physical Functioning Questionnaire and Theory of Planned Behavior Questionnaire.

Results:

Dog owner/dog walkers (n = 77) reported significantly (P < .05) more total walking, walking frequency, leisure and total physical activity and higher total functional ability than dog owner/nondog walkers (n = 83) and nondog owners (n = 931). Dog owner/nondog walkers reported lower intention and perceived behavioral control and a less positive attitude than dog owner/dog walkers (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Dog owner/dog walkers were significantly different than the nondog walker groups in nearly every study variable. Many dog owners (48.1%) reported walking their dogs regularly and the dog owner/dog walkers participated in nearly 50% more total walking than the 2 nondog walking groups, suggesting that pet obligation may provide a purposeful activity that motivates some older dog owners to walk.

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Koichiro Oka and Ai Shibata

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Jesus Soares, Jacqueline N. Epping, Chantelle J. Owens, David R. Brown, Tina J. Lankford, Eduardo J. Simoes, and Carl J. Caspersen

Background:

We aimed to determine the likelihood that adult dog owners who walk their dogs will achieve a healthy level of moderate-intensity (MI) physical activity (PA), defined as at least 150 mins/wk.

Methods:

We conducted a systematic search of 6 databases with data from 1990–2012 on dog owners’ PA, to identify those who achieved MIPA. To compare dog-walkers’ performance with non-dog walkers, we used a random effects model to estimate the unadjusted odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results:

We retrieved 9 studies that met our inclusion criterion and allowed OR calculations. These yielded data on 6980 dog owners aged 18 to 81 years (41% men). Among them, 4463 (63.9%) walked their dogs. Based on total weekly PA, 2710 (60.7%) dog walkers, and 950 (37.7%) non-dog walkers achieved at least MIPA. The estimated OR was 2.74 (95% CI 2.09–3.60).

Conclusion:

Across 9 published studies, almost 2 in 3 dog owners reported walking their dogs, and the walkers are more than 2.5 times more likely to achieve at least MIPA. These findings suggest that dog walking may be a viable strategy for dog owners to help achieve levels of PA that may enhance their health.

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Catrine Tudor-Locke and Sandra A. Ham

Background:

We report walking for shopping, exercise, transportation, and walking the dog, among other sources captured in the 2003 to 2005 American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

Methods:

We extracted and analyzed 8 walking behaviors (by sex, age, education level, and race/ethnicity) from 24 hours of activities recalled by telephone interview for 15,175 males and 19,518 females age ≥15 years.

Results:

On any given day in 2003 to 2005, 45.8% of Americans participated in a median of 45 minutes of any walking activities; 31.6% walked for shopping purposes, 12.5% walked for transportation, 4.8% walked for exercise, and 2.5% walked the dog. College-educated respondents more commonly reported walking while shopping, walking for exercise, and dog walking. Those with less than a high school education more commonly reported walking for transportation.

Conclusions:

Despite limitations identified in imputing explicit and implicit performance of walking behaviors in the ATUS, Americans engage in a wide variety of walking behaviors that are not well represented by surveys focused only on leisure-time behaviors. Public health implications include increased availability of multiple and varied opportunities for walking, especially through environmental shifts toward more walkable places and destinations and policy shifts that support walking behaviors over competing transportation modes.

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K. Robin Yabroff, Richard P. Troiano, and David Berrigan

Background:

Several studies have reported positive associations between pet ownership and a variety of health outcomes. In this study, we explored associations between pet ownership and physical activity in a large, ethnically diverse population-based sample in California.

Method:

Data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) were used to assess the associations between pet ownership (ie, dog, dog and cat, cat, and non–pet owners) and transportation and leisure walking in a sample of 41,514 adults. Logistic regression was used to assess associations between pet ownership and type of walking, and linear regression was used to assess associations between pet ownership and total minutes walking per week.

Results:

Dog owners were slightly less likely to walk for transportation than were non–pet owners (OR = 0.91; 95% CI: 0.85 to 0.99) but more likely to walk for leisure than non–pet owners (OR = 1.6; 95% CI: 1.5 to 1.8) in multivariate analyses. Overall, dog owners walked 18.9 (95% CI: 11.4 to 26.4) minutes more per week than non–pet owners. Walking behaviors of cat owners were similar to non–pet owners.

Conclusion:

Our findings support the moderate association between dog ownership and higher levels of physical activity.

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Cindy Lentino, Amanda J. Visek, Karen McDonnell, and Loretta DiPietro

Background:

An innovative strategy for helping people achieve recommended levels of daily physical activity is dog walking. We assessed differences in physical activity and risk indicators between dog owners who 1) walk their dog (n = 399) and 2) do not walk their dog (n = 137) and compared them with adults who do not own dogs (n = 380).

Methods:

Participants (39 ± 13 years) were recruited online and completed an electronic questionnaire. Healthy People 2010 risk indicators included physical activity, overweight status, tobacco use, nutrition behaviors, chronic conditions, depressive symptoms, and social support.

Results:

Compared with dog walkers, those who did not own or walk their dog reported less physical activity (MET-min·week−1) and a higher body mass index (P < .01). Moreover, after adjusting for age and moderate to high physical activity, those who did not own dogs had significantly greater odds of self-reported diabetes [OR = 2.53; 95%CI (1.17−5.48)], hypertension [OR = 1.71; 95%CI (1.03−2.83)], hypercholesterolemia [OR = 1.72; 95%CI (1.06−2.81)], and depression [OR = 1.49; 95%CI (1.09−2.05)] compared with participants who regularly walked their dogs.

Conclusions:

Because of the health benefits associated with dog walking, this activity should be encouraged within communities as a method of promoting and sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

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Roland J. Thorpe Jr., Regina A. Kreisle, Lawrence T. Glickman, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Anne B. Newman, and Stephen Kritchevsky

Pet ownership among older adults was investigated to determine whether dog owners were more likely to engage in physical activity than non-dog-pet or non–pet owners. The relationship between pet ownership and physical activity was examined using data from the Health ABC study. After age, race, education level, number of assets, family income, and site were adjusted for dog owners were more likely than non–pet owners to have engaged in non-exercise-related walking in the preceding week but did not differ from non–pet owners in walking for exercise or any physical activity. In contrast, non-dog-pet owners did not differ from non–pet owners in non-exercise-related walking in the preceding week and were less likely than non–pet owners to have engaged in walking for exercise or any physical activity in the preceding week. The activity-related benefits of pet ownership in older adults were limited to dog owners, who engaged in greater overall physical activity—non-exercise-related walking, in particular. Whether pet-related physical activity is sufficient to provide health benefits requires longitudinal investigation.

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Viviene Temple, Ryan Rhodes, and Joan Wharf Higgins

Background:

Walking has been identified as a low resourced yet effective means of achieving physical activity levels required for optimal health. From studies conducted around the world, we know that dog owners walk more than nondog owners. However, this evidence is largely self-reported which may not accurately reflect dog-owners’ behaviors.

Method:

To address this concern, we systematically observed the use of 6 different public parks in Victoria, British Columbia during fair and inclement weather. Using a modified version of the SOPARC tool, we documented visitors’ types of physical activity, and the presence or absence of dogs. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment was used to consider park features, amenities, and incivilities.

Results:

More people without dogs (73%) visited the parks than those with dogs (27%), largely because of attendance at the multiuse sport parks during the summer months. Despite the opportunities to engage in multiple sports, most people used the parks to walk. However, when inclement weather struck, dog owners continued visiting parks and sustained their walking practices significantly more than nondog owners.

Conclusion:

Our observational snapshot of park use supports earlier work that dogs serve as a motivational support for their owners’ walking practices through fair and foul weather.