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Health Place. 2013 Jul;22:75-81. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.03.007. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Dog-walking and sense of community in neighborhoods: implications for promoting regular physical activity in adults 50 years and older.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3rd Floor, TRW Building, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4Z6.


This study investigates whether dog-ownership and neighborhood characteristics are associated with sense of community (SC) and neighborhood-based recreational walking (NRW) for older adults. A random sample of adults ≥50 years of age (n=884) provided information on SC, dog-related factors, neighborhood walking, and socio-demographics in telephone and postal surveys. Associations between dog-ownership, neighborhood characteristics, and NRW were estimated using logistic regression (i.e., odds ratios (OR)). Frequent dog-walkers (≥4 times/wk) were more likely than those not owning a dog to report a heightened SC (OR=1.94, p<.05) and to achieve ≥150min/wk of NRW (OR=10.68, p<.05). SC was also tested but not found to mediate associations between neighborhood characteristics, dog-ownership and NRW. Older adults who walk dogs often in their neighborhoods may benefit from both increased physical activity and heightened sense of community to an extent that supports healthy aging. Longitudinal studies are needed to explore directions of associations among these factors.

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