Paws workout

Paws workout

A group of experts at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago found that both people and pets were more successful in staying with a weight-loss program when they participated together.

During a 12-month study, they found that with a healthful diet and 30 minutes of moderate activity three times a week, the people/pet combination lost more weight than people by themselves.

Below are some simple ideas for even the most dedicated couch potatoes. Choosing a consistent time to exercise will help you establish a routine, and it won't be long before Bongo gets the idea and starts meeting you at the door with the leash. He will look forward to this new activity and just might lay on the guilt when you feel like slacking.

Start with five or 10 minutes every day and gradually work up to 30 minutes, four to five days a week. A word of caution: Narrow-bodied breeds, such as greyhounds and Dobermans, should not exercise right after being fed.

Brisk walking is an ideal exercise for you and your pooch. You will both benefit from a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, more energy, denser bones and a lower risk of depression. In dogs, regular walks can also reduce common behavior problems.

Swimming is an overall workout that, because it is low-impact, is especially beneficial for people or dogs with arthritis. Swimming uses all muscles, improves endurance and strengthens the heart and lungs. Not all dogs enjoy swimming, so start slowly, using toys or treats for encouragement. Use common sense as to appropriate water conditions and temperature.

Who doesn't love a good Frisbee toss? Rather than tossing the hard plastic disks, softer, more canine-friendly versions are available at most pet stores for a relaxed game in the backyard. The more competitive types might enjoy joining a group, which offers motivation to practice regularly in a more social setting.

Hiking opportunities are virtually unlimited in and around the Rogue Valley. Shorter and longer trails are everywhere, with many choices of scenery and terrain, from steep and rugged to paved and flat. The trick is to maintain a pace brisk enough to elevate your heart rate. Don't forget the tick protection.

If you've never run an agility course, you'd be amazed how much exercise you and your dog get during this activity. Time counts, so as your star performer races through an obstacle course set with hurdles, tunnels and ladders, you run along with her, offering direction and encouragement. Both of you will improve your cardiovascular capacity, and Fido benefits from improved coordination, balance and obedience skills. Join a group or find a park with a course you can use at your leisure.

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