Working out with pet reaps double benefits

April 12, 2009 10:25:29 AM PDT
Obesity is a problem for both people, and pets. So why not team up with your pooch for a workout.? It could give both of you a new "leash" on life. "

You wanna see a little bit of spine and you wanna feel ribs, not see ribs,' says dog trainer Steve Harvey, to his new client, Stephanie Harvey, as he goes over her dog, Bailey.

Harvey and Bailey are getting back in shape.

Harvey gained some weight sitting out a food injury, while Bailey has had too many treats.

She says, "It is really easy to just flip her a couple treats on the ground, 'cause she's just, 'cause you love her and you know how happy you'd make her."

Bailey may be happy, but that pudge isn't healthy.

Veterinarian Nancy Soares, of Macungie Animal Hospital, says, like people, overweight dogs are at risk for diabetes and other diseases.

"The long & short of it is, that the animals will live at least 2 years more if they're kept in excellent body condition," says Dr. Soares.

With the help of Brooks, Stephanie and Bailey are starting a workout program they can do together.

Brooks suggests mixing a regular walk with some muscle-building lunges.

"I'm working on my glutes and my quads and the dog is learning to do some tricks and figure eights between my legs," he says, describing one "tandem" exercise.

Just remember to start out easy, then step it up gradually.

Your dog doesn't know how to "say when."

Dr. Soares says, "We don't want to put a strain on any organs, muscles or tissues that are not used to being worked out.'

Stephanie & Bailey keep each other going.

"I look at her and say, 'Bailey, we can do this, we can do this together.' And we've made progress, both of us," Harvey says.

The idea of having a pet as a fitness buddy has some scientific backing.

A study in the journal Obesity shows you're more likely to lose weight, and keep it off IF you exercise with your pet.

Brooks says, "Dogs need to exercise just like a person, and you feel better when you exercise."

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