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Dog-walking Is Associated With A Favorable Risk Profile In Middle-age: 831June 3 3:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Lentino, Cynthia V.; Visek, Amanda J.; DiPietro, Loretta FACSM; McDonnell, Karen A.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 5 - p 76-77
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000385557.43724.2a
D-57 Free Communication/Slide - PA Epidemiology and Health: JUNE 3, 2010 3:15 PM - 5:00 PM: ROOM: 345

The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


(No disclosure reported)

Physical activity is a key counter-measure against overweight and obesity that also decreases the risks of other major illnesses. With over 60 percent of American adults not meeting recommended levels of physical activity, novel and innovative approaches to increasing lifestyle physical activity are needed. A potential method may be incorporating dog walking into the daily routine.

PURPOSE: To determine differences in physical activity level and various risk indicators among dog owners who walk their dog (DW), dog owners who do not walk their dog (NDW) and people without dogs (NDO).

METHODS: Participants were recruited online and electronically completed questions from the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II (ACHA-NCHA II), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale-10 (CESD-10), the Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire (FSSQ), and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) - Short Form. The leading risk indicators of Healthy People 2010 were compared between the groups and included physical activity, overweight, and tobacco use, as well as alcohol use, nutrition habits, diagnosed chronic conditions, level of stress, depressive symptoms, and social support. Between-group differences in physical activity (MET-min/wk) and risk factor levels were tested using analysis of variance. Categorical variables were analyzed using Chi-Square tests.

RESULTS: Overall, participants (N=916) were primarily female (78.3%), Caucasian (85.9%), lived in a metropolitan area (94%), and had a mean age of 40 ±13 years. Compared with NDO (n=380) and NDW (n=137), DW (n=399) reported significantly more physical activity (MET-min/week), fewer hours of sitting per day, a lower BMI, lower tobacco use, fewer chronic conditions and depressive symptoms, and greater social support (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study indicate that dog walking is associated with greater physical activity and a more favorable risk profile relative to others who do not walk a dog. This form of activity should be encouraged among community members of all ages as a method of promoting and sustaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

© 2010 American College of Sports Medicine