Dog ownership, dog walking and children's and parents' physical activity
journal contributionposted on 01.09.2010, 00:00 authored by Jo SalmonJo Salmon, Anna TimperioAnna Timperio, B Chu, Jenny VeitchJenny Veitch
This study aimed to determine cross-sectional associations of dog ownership, dog walking, and physical activity (PA) among children and their parents. Objective measures of PA were obtained for children ages 5-6 and 10-12 years from 19 primary schools across Melbourne, Australia. Parents self-reported their PA, dog ownership, and frequency of dog walking: 53% of families owned a dog, 41% of children who owned a dog did not walk their dog at all, and 32% reported never or rarely walking their dog as a family. Dog ownership was associated with an additional 29 min/day in PA among younger girls, and 70 and 59 min/week more in PA among mothers of younger boys and older girls, respectively. Among mothers of older girls, dog owners were 1.6 times as likely to meet PA guidelines. Mothers with older boys and girls, and fathers with younger boys, who reported walking the dog regularly as a family, spent more time in PA (105, 90, and 158 more min/week, respectively). Promoting dog ownership and dog walking among children and as a family are potential strategies for increasing PA participation in some families.