Rebecca L. Jones, Heidi A. Kluess, FACSM. Auburn University, AUBURN, AL.

BACKGROUND: Canine sport participation is a rapidly growing area of human-dog interaction with potential for positive health benefits for both the dog and the owner. Our hypothesis was that women that participate in dog sports will be more fit than traditional pet dog owners. We also hypothesized that the sport dogs will have better body condition compared to traditional pet dogs that do not participate in dog sports. METHODS: Women at least 50 years old that owned dogs were recruited to visit the lab for testing. They completed a six-minute walk test, chair stand test, handgrip strength test, and a bioelectrical impedance test, and height and weight were measured to calculate body mass index (BMI). Dogs were evaluated anthropometrically and using the Purina Body Condition Scale. RESULTS: Twenty-four women (age: 60±7years; range: 51-74) were tested. The 6-minute walk test (538.8±55.4 meters) and the chair stand test (15±3 repetitions) were not different between groups. Handgrip strength (29.3±4.2 kg), percent fat (37.0±7.5 % fat), and BMI (27.1±5.1kg/m2) were also similar between groups. We compared handgrip strength and BMI to population values from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Our participants aged 50-59 had significantly higher measured handgrip strength (p<0.05), but participants 60-69 years old were not significantly different from NHANES data (p=0.44). The BMI for 50-59 year old participants was lower than NHANES average (p=0.046), but the BMI for 60-69 year old participants was not different (p=0.097). Sport dogs (9.6±3.2% fat) were more lean than pet dogs (15.4±8.1% fat; p=0.036). Purina Body Condition score was significantly lower in the sport dogs (5±1; ideal) compared to the pet dogs (7±1; too heavy). CONCLUSIONS: We found that women that participated in dog sports were similarly fit compared to traditional pet owners. However, dog owners combined in the 50-59 years old age group were more fit than the national average, while the older age group was not different from the population average. Interestingly, dogs that participate in dog sports were more lean than their pet counterparts, but the owners were not different.

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