Type 2 diabetes and dog walking: patients' longitudinal perspectives about implementing and sustaining physical activity

Elizabeth Peel, Margaret Douglas, Odette Parry, Julia Lawton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - Physical activity is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes, as evidence suggests that any reduction in sedentary time is good for metabolic health.

Aim - To explore type 2 diabetes patients' talk about implementing and sustaining physical activity.

Design of study - Longitudinal, qualitative study using repeat in-depth interviews with 20 patients over 4 years following clinical diagnosis.

Setting - Patients were recruited from 16 general practices and three hospitals across Lothian, Scotland.

Results - Discussion, and salience, of physical activity was marginal in patient accounts of their diabetes management. Patients claimed to have only received vague and non-specific guidance about physical activity from health professionals, and emphasised a perceived lack of interest and encouragement. Aside from walking, physical activities which were adopted tended to attenuate over time. Patients' accounts revealed how walking a dog assisted this kind of activity maintenance over time. Three main themes are highlighted in the analysis: 1) incidental walking; 2) incremental physical activity gains; and 3) augmenting physical activity maintenance. The problems arising from walking without a dog (for example, lack of motivation) are also examined.

Conclusion - Asking patients about pet preferences might seem tangential to medical interactions. However, encouraging dog walking or identifying another interest that promotes a regular commitment to undertake physical activity may yield long-term health benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-557
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number577
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • adult
  • aged
  • animals
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • dogs
  • exercise
  • female
  • humans
  • male
  • middle aged
  • Scotland
  • socioeconomic factors
  • walking
  • behaviour change
  • type 2 diabetes
  • qualitative study
  • physical activity
  • patients' perspectives


Dive into the research topics of 'Type 2 diabetes and dog walking: patients' longitudinal perspectives about implementing and sustaining physical activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this