A publication from UMass Amherst assistant professor of kinesiology Dr. Katie Potter has been selected as an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Editors’ Pick. The article, titled “Dogs as Support and Motivation for Physical Activity,” provides an overview of dog walking research performed to date and discusses unanswered research questions, noting that “dog walking interventions may be a highly practical approach to population-level physical activity promotion.” Dr. Potter and co-author Dr. Melanie Sartore-Baldwin of East Carolina University note that dog walking fits well with the field’s new focus on constructs like habit and identity for creating long-term, sustainable physical activity maintenance.
Dr. Potter’s publication was invited after her lecture of the same title at the 2018 ACSM annual meeting. The lecture and subsequent publication serve as a follow-up examination to a 2011 review paper by Dr. Jacqueline Epping, in which she identifies dog walking as a practical, accessible, highly sustainable form of physical activity with great relevance to population-level promotion efforts. The authors bolster Dr. Epping’s argument by demonstrating that “dog walking fits well with contemporary thinking on how best to promote sustainable physical activity.”
They conclude that, “Rigorous scientific evidence demonstrating that dogs cause their owners to engage in more physical activity could support programs and policies that make dog ownership accessible to more people.”
Dr. Potter is an expert in exercise psychology and behavioral interventions. Her research focuses on studying the mental, social, and physical health benefits of the human-animal bond, and designing and testing interventions that promote dog walking.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 08