Research Study Abstract

Accelerometer Assessment of Physical Activity during Dog Walking: A Pilot Study

  • Presented on May 28, 2014

Background: Despite a growing body of research indicating that dog walking contributes to meeting physical activity (PA) recommendations, a key limitation of this literature is the use of self-report measures of dog walking and overall PA.

Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to use accelerometry to characterize the frequency, duration, and intensity of physical activity during dog walking, assess differences in dog walking by socio-demographic characteristics, and determine the contribution of dogwalking to overall moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

Methods: Sixty-five dog owners from central Indiana wore an Actigraph GT3X accelerometer for up to 7 consecutive days and recorded start and end times for dog walks with daily log sheets. Each minute with an activity count ≥760 was classified as MVPA. Means and frequencies were used to summarize all variables. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between MVPA during dog walking and meeting PA guidelines, controlling for age, education, income, and gender.

Results: Participants walked their dog an average of 1.2±1.1 times per day, averaged 28.0±15.6 minutes per dog walk, and accumulated 22.9 ± 17.5 minutes of MVPA during dog walking per day, of which 21.7±17.9 minutes occurred in bouts ≥10 minutes. Seventy-nine percent of dog walking was classified as moderate-intensity and 3.5% was vigorous. Approximately 95% of all dog walking MVPA occurred in bouts ≥ 10 minutes and dog walking MVPA bouts accounted for 43% of all MVPA accumulated in bouts. Furthermore, MVPA obtained during dog walking 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 MVPA during dog walking occurred in bouts. These findings suggest that dog walking is consistent with current PA recommendations for adults and should receive more consideration as a PA promotion strategy since 40% of U.S. households own a dog and up to 70% of dog owners do not walk their dog enough to achieve health benefits.


  • Elizabeth A. Richards 1
  • Philip J. Troped 2
  • Eunjung Lim 3


  • 1

    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

  • 2

    University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA

  • 3

    University of Hawaii Honolulu, Honolulu, HI

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting