Family dog ownership and levels of physical activity in childhood: findings from the Child Heart And health Study in England (CHASE)
American Journal of Public Health 2010
DOI : 10.2105/AJPH.2009.188193
PubMed ID : 20634441
Background. Dog ownership is associated with higher levels of physical activity in adults; whether this association occurs in children is unknown. Purpose. To examine the influence of having a pet dog on objectively measured physical activity levels in childhood. Methods. Cross-sectional study of 2071 urban school children (2006-7), who responded to a questionnaire asking about pet ownership and wore an Actigraph-GT1M activity monitor during waking hours for up to 7 days. Mean differences in activity outcomes (counts per minute of registered time, steps, time spent in light, moderate to vigorous activity per day) by dog ownership (yes v. no) were analysed adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, day of week, month, allowing for school clustering. Results. Children who had a pet dog spent more time in light (5, 95% CI 0-10 mins), moderate to vigorous physical activity (3, 95% CI 0-6 mins), and had higher activity counts-per-minute (25, 95% CI 6-44), and steps (357, 95% CI 14-701) per day than those who did not. Directions of association were similar in boys and girls, and in different ethnic groups. Conclusion. Family dog ownership is associated with modestly increased levels of childhood physical activity; public health implications require further elucidation.