Evidence suggests a positive effect of dog ownership on physical activity. However, most previous studies used self-reported physical activity measures. Additionally, it is unknown whether owning a dog is associated with adults’ sedentary behaviour, an emerging health risk factor. In this study, physical activity and sedentary behaviour were objectively collected between 2013 and 2015 from 693 residents (aged 40–64 years) living in Japan using accelerometer devices. Multivariable linear regression models were used, adjusted for several covariates. The means of total sedentary time and the number of long (≥ 30 min) sedentary bouts were 26.29 min/day (95% CI − 47.85, − 4.72) and 0.41 times/day (95% CI − 0.72, − 0.10) lower for those who owned a dog compared to those not owning a dog, respectively. Compared with non-owners, dog-owners had significantly higher means of the number of sedentary breaks (95% CI 0.14, 1.22), and light-intensity physical activity (95% CI 1.31, 37.51). No significant differences in duration of long (≥ 30 min) sedentary bouts, moderate, vigorous, and moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity were observed between dog-owners and non-owners. A novel finding of this study is that owning a dog was associated with several types of adults’ sedentary behaviours but not medium-to-high-intensity physical activities. These findings provide new insights for dog-based behavioural health interventions on the benefits of dog ownership for reducing sedentary behaviour.
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