Physical activity of Japanese older adults who own and walk dogs

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Oct;43(4):429-33. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.06.019.


Background: Dog ownership is emerging as an important correlate of sufficient physical activity and therefore has the potential to positively affect a portion of the population. A growing body of literature indicates that dog-walking contributes to increased physical activity. However, most of the previous studies have been conducted in Australia or the U.S. and have sampled from the general adult population.

Purpose: This study examined the association between dog ownership, dog-walking, and physical activity in older Japanese adults.

Methods: Participants were community-dwelling residents aged 65-74 years who responded to a population-based cross-sectional survey (N=1926). Physical activity, dog ownership, dog-walking, and sociodemographic attributes were self-reported (collected in 2010; analyzed in 2011). ANCOVAs and multivariate logistic regressions were used.

Results: Overall, 14.0% of older adults were dog owners, with 71% reporting that they walked their dog for an average of 308.5±300.7 minutes/week. Dog walkers reported more minutes/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (M±SE: 241.7±27.0) and total physical activity (M±SE: 698.6±40.6) than both non-dog walkers (M±SE: 110.7±41.8; M±SE: 527.2±62.9) and non-dog owners (M±SE: 164.7±9.1; M±SE: 519.2±13.7), respectively (p<0.05). Dog walkers also walked more minutes per week (M±SE: 508.0±33.4) than non-dog owners (M±SE: 384.5±11.3; p<0.05). Dog walkers were more likely to be sufficiently active than both non-dog walkers and non-dog owners (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Use of dog-walking may be a potentially viable means of intervention for increasing walking and overall physical activity in older Japanese adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ownership
  • Pets*
  • Walking / physiology*