Relationships between dog ownership and physical activity in postmenopausal women

Prev Med. 2015 Jan;70:33-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.10.030. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Background: Positive associations between dog ownership and physical activity in older adults have been previously reported.

Purpose: The objective of this study was to examine cross-sectional associations between dog ownership and physical activity measures in a well-characterized, diverse sample of postmenopausal women.

Methods: Analyses included 36,984 dog owners (mean age: 61.5years), and 115,645 non-dog owners (mean age: 63.9years) enrolled in a clinical trial or the observational study of the Women's Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998. Logistic regression models were used to test for associations between dog ownership and physical activity, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: Owning a dog was associated with a higher likelihood of walking ≥150min/wk (Odds Ratio, 1.14; 95% Confidence Interval, 1.10-1.17) and a lower likelihood of being sedentary ≥8h/day (Odds Ratio, 0.86; 95% Confidence Interval, 0.83-0.89) as compared to not owning a dog. However, dog owners were less likely to meet ≥7.5MET-h/wk of total physical activity as compared to non-dog owners (Odds Ratio, 1.03; 95% Confidence Interval, 1.00-1.07).

Conclusions: Dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity in older women, particularly among women living alone. Health promotion efforts aimed at older adults should highlight the benefits of regular dog walking for both dog owners and non-dog owners.

Keywords: Dog walking; Health promotion; Older adults; Physical activity; Sedentary lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ownership
  • Pets*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Self Report
  • United States
  • Walking / standards
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*