Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
British Medical Association
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Wu, Y., Luben, R., & Jones, A. (2017). Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71 (9), 905-911. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2017-208987
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.
This work was funded by the Medical Research Council (Grant No. G0401527). This work was also supported by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, 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.
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MR/N003284/1)
Embargo Lift Date
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2017-208987
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/266186
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