Pet Fitness: A Pet Exercise Program

Diet alone won't deliver a slimmer dog or cat, learn about pet fitness and the benefits of physical activity and movement when you use a pet exercise program.

| May/June 1987

Want a slimmer dog or cat? Diet alone won't do it. 

Pet Fitness: A Pet Exercise Program

Anyone with a dog or cat owes that animal the three essentials of a decent life: comfortable shelter, nutritious food and the opportunity (and, if necessary, the motivation) to get adequate exercise.

The Benefits of Pet Fitness

There is, of course, an overwhelming body of scientific evidence to support the notion that exercise is vital to human wellness. Most veterinarians believe that the same holds true for animals. Nearly all the documented benefits of exercise for humans are also apparent in active pets.

Mentally and emotionally, an exercising animal is invariably better off—happier, more alert, more content. Activity soothes life's many stresses. The exerciser sleeps better, has more libido and is better adjusted. In their book Pet Aerobics (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984), Warren and Fay Eckstein state emphatically, "Nearly every behavior problem we have encountered in our 14 years of work with animals is directly attributable to lack of exercise." (The Eck steins are professional animal trainers who have worked with more than 20,000 pets.) Mentioned in the Ecksteins' list of "ailments" that disappear after proper exercise are furniture chewing, biting, car chasing, hole digging and excessive barking.

Exercise keeps your pet lean and trim, too. There's simply no other way to get—and keep—the lard off. I used to tell clients with portly pets that diet was the key (the same advice physicians would give overweight patients). "This animal is grossly out of shape," I'd say, pounding my fist on the exam table. "It's eating too many groceries. Cut down on the vittles and it'll lose that fat." Since then I've learned that dieting alone doesn't work.

Decreased food intake is an important factor in losing weight, but pet fitness is a necessary companion. An animal (or human) loses only so much weight by dieting, and then stops at a level known as a set point. Exercise, however, lowers that set point, making it possible for Pooch to become the svelte self he's meant to be. And because creatures that exercise crave more nutritious foods and metabolize them more efficiently, a weight-control regimen of both reasonable diet and exercise can be virtually self-sustaining.

7/30/2012 4:42:09 AM

Before you start any weight loss program or make a drastic change to your diet, you will need to see your doctor. Get a physical if you haven’t had one recently. You should discuss any related health concerns and gain her approval of your chosen weight loss method

7/30/2012 3:09:53 AM

Sometimes I can list a dozen things I could be doing instead of exercising. The only thing that gets me to exercise when I don't want to is to think about how I will feel afterwards, knowing deep down that I have done something that is far more beneficial than, say ... color-coding my closet.

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