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Curr Sports Med Rep. 2019 Jul;18(7):275-280. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000611.

Dogs as Support and Motivation for Physical Activity.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA.
Department of Kinesiology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.


Physical activity behavior change theorists are actively shifting the field to better align with the science of motivation and decision making. With this shift has come increasing interest in the role of affective judgments, habit, and identity in long-term physical activity maintenance, as well as the importance of framing physical activity in ways that protect autonomy and support personal values. This special communication makes the case for dog walking as a physical activity modality that fits well with the field's new focus. The authors provide an overview of dog walking research performed to date and discuss unanswered research questions. Given the large percentage of U.S. households that own a dog and the mainstream animal welfare movement to rehome adoptable shelter pets, there are innumerable opportunities to leverage the human-dog bond to increase physical activity levels.Dog walking interventions may be a highly practical approach to population-level physical activity promotion.

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