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Active Voice: 'Man's Best Friend' Friendly to Fitness

Active Voice is an periodic column by ACSM experts in science, medicine, and allied health. The viewpoints expressed do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM. This commentary is based on a presentation at the 2010 ACSM Annual Meeting.

Loretta DiPietro, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACSM, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Exercise Science within The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. Her research focus includes the effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in aging.


Regular physical activity is a key counter-measure against excessive weight gain and consequent risk of numerous chronic conditions. However, most American adults do not meet the recommended federal physical activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of activity per week. An innovative approach to promoting a more active lifestyle among the population may be to incorporate dog walking into the daily routine. In 2007, there were approximately 72 million dogs owned as pets in the United States, with 37 percent of households owning at least one dog. Given these statistics, as well as the fact that walking is the most prevalent physical activity reported worldwide, the public health impact of including dogs into a regular walking program appears substantial. more


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