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Need a walking partner? Try a dog

Monday, August 24, 2009

Forget about joining a gym. If you want to get into shape, all you need is a four-legged pal.

Dr. Robert Kushner, a human obesity expert and professor of medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, said that dogs make great workout partners in winning the battle of the bulge.

"They are natural exercise machines on a leash," he said.

Research has shown that it's easier to be physically active and stick with an exercise program when you team up with a workout buddy, Kushner said. But unlike human partners, who might make excuses for not wanting to go for a walk or run, a dog never will. They will generally be the first ones at the door, ready to go, rain or shine.

Deborah Wood, an animal shelter manager in Portland, Ore., lost 140 pounds in two years after enrolling in a national weight loss program and going for three-mile daily walks with her three papillons -- pushing the two oldest in a doggie stroller.

"I always liked walking my dogs," Wood said, "but I just made it a priority and worked on going farther and faster."

Finding the right walking speed to reap health benefits is easy, said Dr. Dawn Marcus, a professor in the anesthesiology department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "If you're so winded, you can't talk with someone, then you're probably walking at too hard of a pace," she said. "On the other hand, if you're walking so slowly that you can easily sing, you're probably not walking fast enough."

If your dog tends to saunter down the street, she said, you can intensify the workout by taking a hillier route or by stepping on and off curbs.

Marcus said that one of her most valued "colleagues" in the hospital is Wheatie, her wheaten terrier and a trained hospital therapy dog. "I've found that Wheatie motivates patients to open up, try new things and get healthier," she said.

But enthusiasm for exercise is just one of the healthy behaviors humans can learn from dogs, said Marcus, who last year wrote Fit as Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health. Dogs instinctively get enough sleep and maintain good hydration -- traits that have, for instance, been linked with weight loss in people.

"A lot of times as humans, we mistake that drive for water with a drive to get more food," Marcus said.

Currently, an estimated two out of three adults in the United States are overweight. And being overweight, Kushner stressed, has been associated with significant medical problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and stroke.

A few years ago, Kushner co-authored a study to see if pets and people could help each other lose weight. It compared the weight lost by 36 overweight people who were paired with an obese dog with the weight lost by 56 overweight people who participated alone.

Pets were fed a calorie-controlled diet. When their ideal body weight was reached, based on their breed and age, the animals were put on a maintenance diet. People participating in the study were given dietary counseling and encouraged to walk at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

Published in the journal Obesity, the study found that people with dogs were slightly more active than those without dogs and that, after a year, they had lost an average of 11 pounds, or 4.7 percent of their body weight.

Pudgy pooches benefited from the buddy system, too. They slimmed down an average of 12 pounds, or 15 percent of their body weight.

Kushner said that pets really do motivate people to stick with a diet and exercise plan until the pounds come off and stay off. People in the study reported that their dogs not only gave them incentive to work out but made the experience more enjoyable -- two predictors of sustaining an exercise program long term, he said.

For Wood, taking long treks with her dogs has paid off. She's now half the woman she used to be, dropping in dress size from a 3X to an 8.

"Walking a dog is absolutely fun," Wood said. "It's good for the dog; it's good for the human."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYLAUREN2 8/24/2009 10:14PM

    My dog knows when its time to go for a walk, she sees the lead and the shoes and she is ready. She likes to go visit the neighborhood dogs. I think everyone in the area has one, so we have a lot a stopping to do.

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GHOSTFLAMES 8/24/2009 7:27PM


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MISSJANELLEC 8/24/2009 7:24PM

    I wish I could have a dog!

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I finally made it to the point of achieving my small goal of weighing less than I did
last Christmas. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, being on a roller
coaster for the last 6 months with my weight fluctuating each week, but never going
below 158. I feel like I finally reached my 1st goal after a lot of frustration, but
never giving up on myself.

I am now on a roll to a healthy new life and feeling god about myself.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AXREAH 4/1/2009 3:32PM

    WOOHOOO....your there! Enjoy the ride and keep moving forward! YOU ROCK!!!!! :-)

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1/21/09 A Good Day

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am still hanging in with the Bootcamp every day, but have a problem with trying to get my 30 mins of cardio and Bootcamp done every day when I'm working. By the time I get home from work, I'm tired and have to push myself to exercise; but after I'm done, I feel good about myself for having the
discipline to make myself complete the routines. I am working at not stressing myself out trying to do everything in a short period of time.
Tomorrow is always a new day for new beginnings.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AXREAH 1/22/2009 12:45PM

    What a "Beautiful Baby"! :-) Is that your "Granddaughter/Grandson"? How gorgeous! :-)

I love your blog! Everything you wrote fits me to a "T"! I really need to work on not getting stressed, as well!

I just wish I had your discipline! Would you like to share some of it with me??? Your GREAT! I really need to keep my eye on the prize and focus, as you do!

I love your line "Tomorrow is always a new day for new beginnings"! That's how I feel today and I'm liking it, very much! :-)



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New Bootcamp Team

Sunday, January 04, 2009

1/4/2009--Today I have started a new journey to a healthier life with the help of
New You Bootcamp. I have completed Day1 Video with little difficulty and
now doing challenge.
My goal is to lose 5 lbs by January 31 and continue losing 5 lbs each month
until I reach my goal weight.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AXREAH 1/5/2009 2:16PM

    Hey GF,

WTG on getting that workout in!

Your plan is mine to a "T"! 5 lbs by 1/31 and 5 lbs a month thereafter! We can do this together----I know we can and if we lose more, that's just another added "surprise"! :-)



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Burn Baby Burn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Letís face it. Now is the time of year that you want to kick that calorie burn into high gear. We are neck deep in the holiday festivities, so we are all looking to get our metabolisms roaring, right? So how do you know what exercises and activities are going to give you the biggest bang for your calorie-burn buck?

I have put together a list of various activities to give you an idea of how each affects your burn. Sitting still (aka at rest), most people expend roughly 1-2 calories per minute, depending on your body weight, sex, etc. I have included both activities that burn a lot of calories, and also a separate chart that shows activities that donít burn very many.

Use these charts as references so that you can get moving this season and burn off those extra goodies here and there that you want to enjoy along the way.

Note: This chart is based on a 150-pound woman. Men and women weighing over 150 pounds will burn more calories during the same activities, and those that weigh less will burn less.

aerobics: low impact 170
aerobics: high impact 238
elliptical trainer: general 213
calisthenics: vigorous, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, pullups 272
weight lifting: light/moderate 108
weight lifting: vigorous 207
running: 6.7 mph (9 min/mile) 374
walk: 4 mph (15 min/mi) 170
stretching: mild, hatha yoga 85
ice skating: moderate intensity 238
sledding, toboggan, bobsled 238
skiing/snowboarding: downhill, moderate effort 204
operating a snow blower: walking 153
shoveling snow: by hand 238
vacuuming 119
cleaning house: general, light 87
decorating Christmas tree 85
food shopping: with cart 78
christmas shopping 78
playing w/kids: moderate effort 153
baking and food preparation 136
Unloading car 102

reading: sitting 44
standing in line: light, holding items 68
sitting, watching TV 34
writing Christmas cards 61
wrapping gifts 51
socializing, standing 61
playing cards 51


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