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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. Karen.J.Coleman@kp.org



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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