Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hairy exercise machines....

3-3-10: I saw this article on our current newsletter for our PA Special Interest Group (SPIG) for the APHA. Since we're a dog family, I just had to post it in here! Another great reason to have dogs as family members. They can literally help save your life!

Summer taking 8-mo old Yorkie Terrier Davy, our newest family member, out for one of his daily 2-mile walks.
My wife Keri and Summer just back from one of Roxy's 3-mile run in the hills of Loma Linda. We got Roxy for a local shelter last March. She's turning 2 this month!
Here's a shot of Roxy and her best girlfriend, Nabi, who is also 2 years old. Nabi is the family dog of some close friends, John and Nanci Choi. We swing by their house and pick Nabi up from their backyard on the way to the hills.

Here's another shot of Roxy and I after our AM mtn. bike ride/run. Roxy gets a nice fast, hard, run in the AM when I mtn. bike, and a more leisurely run with Keri in the afternoon.

Libby Richards, MSN, RN, CHES

Walking is considered a simple and cost-effective strategy to increase physical activity levels. Interestingly, it is estimated that 40 percent of U.S. households own a dog (Cutt, Knuiman, & Giles-Corti, 2008). Therefore, dog walking may provide a promising option to increasing physical activity at a population level.

A modest number of studies have shown a positive relationship between dog ownership and physical activity behaviors (Coleman, et al., 2008; Serpell, 1991; Yabroff, Troiano, & Berrigan, 2008). Acquiring a dog has been shown to increase the number and duration of recreational walks when compared to people who don't own dogs (Serpell, 1991). Data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey found that while dog owners were less likely to walk for transportation, they were more likely to walk for leisure and that dog owners walked an average of 19 more minutes per week than non-owners (Yabroff, et al., 2008). Furthermore, Coleman and colleagues (2008) found that dog owners who walked their dog(s) were significantly more likely to meet national recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity than non-dog owners and dog owners who did not walk their dog(s).

International studies also show promising results for the effects of dog walking on physical activity. Brown and Rhodes (2006) examined associations between dog ownership and leisure-time walking in Canadian adults and found that dog owners spent more time in mild and moderate physical activity and walked an average of 300 min/week compared to those who did not own dogs who walked an average of 168 min/week. In a 12-month Australian study, Cutt and colleagues (2008) concluded that new dog owners significantly increased their neighborhood recreational walking by 48 min/week compared to a 12 min/week increase for non-owners. To date, most studies are cross-sectional but do show promising results. Interventional studies are under way and include using dogs from the local shelters to encourage community members to get out and be active (University of Missouri-Columbia, 2009).


American Council on Exercise. (2010).

Brown, S. & Rhodes, R. (2006). Relationships among dog ownership and leisure-time walking in Western Canadian adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 131-136.

Coleman, K., Rosenberg, D., Conway, T., Sallis, J., Saelens, B., Frank, L., & Cain, K. (2008). Physical activity, weight status, and neighborhood characteristics of dog walkers. Preventive Medicine, 47, 309–312.

Cutt, H., Knuiman, M., & Giles-Corti, B. (2008). Does getting a dog increase recreational walking? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 17.

Serpell, J. (1991). Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behaviour. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 84, 717-720.

University of Missouri-Columbia (2009, September 29). A Pet in your life keeps the doctor away. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2009, from­/releases/2009/09/090928172532.htm

Yabroff, K., Troiano, R., & Berrigan, D. (2008). Walking the dog: Is pet ownership associated with physical activity in California? Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 5, 216-228.