Pet Ownership and Physical Activity in Older Adults: Cross-Sectional Analyses from the NICOLA Study

Ruth D. Neill, Conor Cunningham, Maeve O’Doherty, lee smith, Mark A. Tully

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Abstract

Aging research indicates that there is increased sedentary behaviour and insufficient physical activity levels across the older adult population. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that pet ownership can have beneficial physical and mental health effects. Data were drawn from the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA). This questionnaire measured general social demographics such as gender, age, and marital status while also examining elements of physical activity, lifestyle factors (drinking status, smoking status), and education. Two items from the short form International Physical Activity Questionnaire recorded moderate and vigorous activity. Respondents were asked if they owned a pet (Yes/No). The results are based on a secondary data analysis. An ordinal logistic regression revealed that an increase in moderate activity days was associated with pet ownership with an odds ratio of 0.111 (95% CI, −0.036 to 0.337), Wald χ2 (1) 15.013, p < 0.001. An increase in vigorous activity days was associated with pet ownership with an odds ratio of 0.039 (95% CI, 0.004 to 0.342), Wald χ2 (1) 8.952, p = 0.003). Amongst older adults in Northern Ireland, those with a pet were more likely to engage in regular physical activity. This study was based on a small specific sample of the population and showed differences in physical activity levels between pet owners and non-pet owners. Additionally, the study showed that physical activity is extremely low among the older adult population, therefore further investigation is warranted on the reasons for these low levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-152
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Ageing and Longevity
Volume3
Issue number2
Early online date6 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • pet ownership
  • older adults
  • cross-sectional
  • physical activity
  • Northern Ireland
  • Article

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