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



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.


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.


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.


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)570-577
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number577
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

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