Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Health and Human Performance


Exercise Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Elizabeth Wuorinen


Previous research has shown therapy dogs may be utilized to attenuate heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) responses during various types of stressors due to an increase in oxytocin (OT) and decrease in cortisol (CL) production. These hormonal changes have also been shown to enhance exercise performance. Purpose: This study aimed to determine if physiological responses to exercise changed in the presence of a therapy dog for sedentary adults. Methods: Seven adult subjects (mean age of 30.86 ± 14.07 years) who self-reported less than 150 min of physical activity per week participated in a graded walking test with a constant speed of 2.5 mph in two separate conditions: in the presence of the therapy dog (TD) and alone (CONT). Resting, pre-exercise, and post-exercise HR, BP, and OT concentration measurements were collected. During the exercise test, HR and Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) values were collected each one-min or three-min interval, respectively. Results: The data was analyzed using multiple two-way repeated measures ANOVAs. The results found no significant differences (pConclusions:These results suggest the utilization of therapy dogs is neither beneficial nor detrimental to physiological changes that occur during exercise. This research serves as a beneficial pilot study for the continuation of investigation for this topic.

Access Type

Open Access