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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Soares (JSoares@cdc.gov), Epping, Owens, Brown, and Lankford are with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Simoes is with the Dept of Health Management and Informatics, University of Missouri, School of Medicine, Columbia, MO. Caspersen is with the Division of Diabetes Translation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.