Assessing the Intensity of Dog Walking and Impact on Overall Physical Activity: A Pilot Study Using Accelerometry


Introduction: Despite a growing body of research indicating that dog walking contributes to meeting physical activity (PA) guidelines, this literature is limited by the use of self-report measures of dog walking and overall PA. The objectives of this pilot study were to objectively assess dog walking with accelerometry, characterize the frequency, duration, and intensity of dog walking, and determine the contribution of dog walking to overall moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Methods: Sixty-five dog owners wore an Actigraph GT3X accelerometer for up to 7 consecutive days and recorded start/end times for dog walks with daily log sheets. Each minute with an activity count ≥ 760 was classified as MVPA. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize all variables. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between dog walking MVPA bouts and meeting PA guidelines, controlling for age, education, income, and gender. Results: Participants walked their dog an average of 1.2 ± 1.1 times/day, averaged 28.0 ± 15.6 minutes/walk, and accumulated 22.9 ± 17.5 minutes of MVPA/day during dog walks, of which 21.7 ± 17.9 minutes were accumulated in bouts ≥10 minutes. Seventy-eight percent of dog walking was classified as moderate-intensity and 3.5% was vigorous. Dog walking MVPA had a statistically significant positive association with meeting PA guidelines (OR = 2.32; 95% CI = 1.06, 5.08). Conclusions: The majority of dog walking minutes were moderate-intensity and most minutes of MVPA during dog walking occurred in bouts. These findings suggest that dog walking is consistent with current PA guidelines for adults and should receive more consideration as a PA promotion strategy.

Share and Cite:

Richards, E. , Troped, P. and Lim, E. (2014) Assessing the Intensity of Dog Walking and Impact on Overall Physical Activity: A Pilot Study Using Accelerometry. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 523-528. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.47062.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report (2008) US Department of Health and Human Services.
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey: Leisure-Time Physical Activity.
[3] Hootman, J. Macera, C., Ainsworth, B., Martin, M., Addy, C. and Blair, S. (2011) Association among Physical Activity Level, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Risk of Musculoskeletal Injury. American Journal of Epidemiology, 54, 251-258.
[4] The Humane Society of the United States (2013) US Pet Ownership Statistics.
[5] Christian, H.E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E.A., Rhodes, R.E., Evenson, K.R., et al. (2013) Dog Ownership and Physical Activity: A Review of the Evidence. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10, 750-759.
[6] Reeves, M.J., Rafferty, A.P., Miller, C.E. and Lyon-Callo, S.K. (2011) The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results from a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8, 436-444.
[7] Richards, E.A., McDonough, M., Edwards, N., Lyle, R. and Troped, P.J. (2013) Psychosocial and Environmental Factors Associated with Dog Walking. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 51, 198-211.
[8] Bauman, A.E., Russell, S.J., Furber, S.E. and Dobson, A.J. (2001) The Epidemiology of Dog Walking: An Unmet Need for Human and Canine Health. Medical Journal of Australia, 175, 632-634.
[9] Westgarth, C., Christley, R.M., Pinchbeck, G.L., Gaskell, R.M., Dawson, S. and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2011) Dog Behaviour on Walks and the Effect of Use of the Leash. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 125, 38-46.
[10] Sallis, J. and Saelens, B. (2000) Assessment of Physical Activity by Self-report: Status, Limitations, and Future Directions. Research Quarterly for Exercise Sport, 71, S1-S14.
[11] Troiano, R.P. (2005) Timely Meeting: Objective Measurement of Physical Activity. Medicine Science in Sports Exercise, 37, S487-489.
[12] United States Census Bureau (2014) Tippecanoe County, Indiana: State and County Quick Facts.
[13] (2010) ActiLife 5 User’s Manual. Actigraph Corporation, Pensacola.
[14] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) About BMI for Adults.
[15] Troiano, R.P., Berrigan, D., Dodd, K.W., Masse, L.C., Tilert, T. and McDowell, M. (2008) Physical Activity in the United States Measured by Accelerometer. Medicine Science in Sports Exercise, 40, 181-188.
[16] Crouter,S.E., Della-Valle, D.M., Haas, J.D., Frongillo, E.A. and Bassett, D.R. (2013)Validity of Actigraph 2-Regression Model, Matthews Cut-Points, and NHANES Cut-Points for Assessing Free-Living Physical Activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10, 504-514.
[17] Matthews, C.E. (2005) Calibration of Accelerometer Output for Adults. Medicine Science in Sports, 37, S512-522.
[18] National Institutes of Health (2013) SAS Programs for Analyzing NHANES 2003-2004 Accelerometer Da-ta.
[19] (2009) SAS/STAT 9.2 User’s Guide. 2nd Edition, SAS Institute, Cary.
[20] Ainsworth, B.E., Haskell, W.L., Whitt, M.C., Irwin, M.L., Swartz, A.M., Strath, S.J., et al. (2000) Compendium of Physical Activities: An Update of Activity Codes and MET Intensities. Medicine Science in Sports, 32, S498-S504.
[21] Fryar, C.D., Gu,Q. and Ogden, C.L. (2012) Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007-2010. Vital and Health Statistics Series, 11, 1-40.
[22] Hall, K.D. (2007)What is the Required Energy Deficit per Unit Weight Loss? International Journal of Obesity, 32,573-576.
[23] Lail, P., McCormack, G. and Rock, M. (2011) Does Dog-Ownership Influence Seasonal Patterns of Neighbourood-Based Walking among Adults? A Longitudinal Study. BMC Public Health, 11, 148.
[24] Temple, V., Rhodes, R. and Wharf Higgins, J. (2011) Un-leashing Physical Activity: An Observational Study of Park Use, Dog Walking, and Physical Activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8, 766-774.
[25] Tucker, P. and Gilliland J. (2007) The Effect of Season and Weather on Physical Activity: A Systematic Review. Public Health, 121, 909-922.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.