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Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: Cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yu-Tzu WuORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017.Background Dog ownership has been suggested to encourage physical activity in older adults and may enhance resilience to poor environmental conditions. This study investigates the role of dog ownership and walking as a means of supporting the maintenance of physical activity in older adults during periods of inclement weather. Methods The analysis used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Norfolk cohort. Daily physical activity (counts per minute) and minutes of sedentary behaviour were measured using accelerometers over 7 days. Three types of environmental conditions, day length, precipitation and maximum temperature, were date matched with daily physical activity. A multilevel first-order autoregressive time-series model quantified the moderating effect of self-reported dog ownership and walking on the association between physical activity and weather factors. Results Among the 3123 participants, 18% reported having a dog in their households and two-thirds of dog owners walked their dogs at least once a day. Regular dog walkers were more active and less sedentary on days with the poorest conditions than non-dog owners were on the days with the best conditions. In days with the worst conditions, those who walked their dogs had 20% higher activity levels than non-dog owners and spent 30 min/day less sedentary. Conclusion Those who walked dogs were consistently more physically active than those who did not regardless of environmental conditions. These large differences suggest that dog walking, where appropriate, can be a component of interventions to support physical activity in older adults.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wu Y-T, Luben R, Jones A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

Year: 2017

Volume: 71

Issue: 9

Pages: 905-911

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 24/07/2017

Acceptance date: 12/05/2017

Date deposited: 21/05/2020

ISSN (print): 0143-005X

ISSN (electronic): 1470-2738

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-208987


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Funder referenceFunder name
... the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, ...
... the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.
also supported by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence.
funded by the Medical Research Council (Grant No. G0401527).
Funding from Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, ...