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.
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