Does dog-ownership influence seasonal patterns of neighbourhood-based walking among adults? A longitudinal study

Lail, Parabhdeep; McCormack, Gavin R.; Melanie Rock
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p148
Academic Journal
Background: In general dog-owners are more physically active than non-owners, however; it is not known whether dog-ownership can influence seasonal fluctuations in physical activity. This study examines whether dogownership influences summer and winter patterns of neighbourhood-based walking among adults living in Calgary, Canada. Methods: A cohort of adults, randomly sampled from the Calgary metropolitan area, completed postal surveys in winter and summer 2008. Both winter and summer versions of the survey included questions on dog-ownership, walking for recreation, and walking for transportation in residential neighbourhoods. Participation in neighbourhood-based walking was compared, among dog-owners and non-owners, and in summer and winter, using general linear modeling. Stability of participation in neighbourhood-based walking across summer and winter among dog-owners and non-owners was also assessed, using logistic regression. Results: A total of 428 participants participated in the study, of whom 115 indicated owning dogs at the time of both surveys. Dog-owners reported more walking for recreation in their neighbourhoods than did non-owners, both in summer and in winter. Dog-owners were also more likely than non-owners to report participation in walking for recreation in their neighbourhoods, in summer as well as in winter. Dog-owners and non-owners did not differ in the amount of walking that they reported for transportation, either in summer or in winter. Conclusions: By acting as cues for physical activity, dogs may help their owners remain active across seasons. Policies and programs related to dog-ownership and dog-walking, such as dog-supportive housing and dogsupportive parks, may assist in enhancing population health by promoting physical activity.


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