Objective: The promotion of dog walking among owners who do not walk their dogs regularly may be a viable physical activity intervention aperture, yet research is very limited and no intervention studies have employed control groups. Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study was to examine the viability of dog walking for physical activity intervention using messages targeting canine exercise.
Method: Inactive dog owners (n=58) were randomized to either a standard control condition or the intervention (persuasive material about canine health from walking and a calendar to mark walks) after completing a baseline questionnaire package and wearing a pedometer for one week. Participants (standard condition n=28; intervention condition n=30) completed the six and 12 week follow-up questionnaire packages.
Results: Intention to treat analyses showed that both groups increased physical activity significantly across the 12 weeks (η(2)=0.09 to 0.21). The intervention group resulted in significantly higher step-counts compared to the control group (Δ 1823 steps) and showed significantly higher trajectories from baseline to 12 weeks in the self-reported physical activity measures (η(2)=0.11 to 0.27).
Conclusion: The results are promising for the viability of increasing dog walking as a means for physical activity promotion and suggest that theoretical fidelity targeting canine exercise may be a helpful approach.
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