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Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):309-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.05.007. Epub 2008 May 16.

Physical activity, weight status, and neighborhood characteristics of dog walkers.

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  • 1Research and Evaluation, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, 100 S. Los Robles, 2nd Floor, Pasadena, CA, 91101, USA.



This study examined how demographics, physical activity, weight status, and neighborhood characteristics varied among households with and without dogs.


Participants aged 20 to 65 years (n=2199, 52% male, 75% white, mean age=45) were recruited from 32 neighborhoods in the Seattle, WA and Baltimore, MD regions during 2002-2005. Dog ownership, dog walking, education, height, weight, and family income were self-reported. Minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were measured objectively by 7-day accelerometry.


Dog walking was associated with a higher proportion of participants who met national recommendations for MVPA (53%) when compared to those who had but did not walk their dog (33%) and to non-dog owners (46%). There were significantly fewer obese dog walkers (17%) when compared to both owners who did not walk their dogs (28%) and non-owners (22%). Dog owners who walked their dogs were more likely to live in high-walkable neighborhoods when compared to dog owners who did not walk their dogs.


Dog walking may promote physical activity and contribute to weight control. Dog walking appears to be a mechanism by which residents of high-walkable neighborhoods obtain their physical activity.

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