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does this dog make me look fat? part one

18 April 2011

Look in the mirror. The answer could well be yes.

If you’ve got an overweight dog, chances are that you could drop a few pounds, yourself. At least, that’s what The Good Vet recently told MW. In the vet’s experience, chubby owners more often than not have chubby dogs.

If you’re among the 2/3rds of Americans who are either obese or overweight, your chubby puppy chihuahua may be making your chubby calves appear even wider.

But wait, you could actually lift yourself off of the couch and walk your pooch.  It isn’t a Mensa-level exercise regimen. I even have in-house proof that it works.

These Dogs Were Made for Walking

MW has lost a couple of pounds since Luna arrived, and the lengthy morning dog walks with friends began. (I can’t tell you for sure how many because I value relative peace in the marriage. There are just some answers husbands don’t pursue too aggressively).

There’s also statistical proof that dog walking works for more people than my lovely spouse. “The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults” appeared in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

The report’s conclusion: dog walking was associated with more walking and long-term physical activity. The authors specifically recommended promoting dog walking to increase long-term physical activity. The mass media lapped it up with plenty of “Fido Can Make You Fitter” stories.

A Dog and Some More Chips, Please

chubby man walking skinny dog

dog ownership can contribute to a healthy weight....but not in this case

Unfortunately, most of the stories ignored a key fact cited by the authors—dogs only make you more active if you get off the couch and walk them. An inactive dog owner is still inactive.

“I’ll take that young beagle and a supersized bag of restaurant-style Tostitos.”

The authors disclosed that a substantial proportion of dog owners buy a dog and plop it on the couch beside them. Right beside the opened snack food containers. Of the 41% of respondents that reported walking their dog for at least 10 minutes at a time, a pretty small percentage—just 27%—walked their dog at least 150 minutes per week. It seems clear that too many buy a dog and continue to fill their days with General Hospital and Friends reruns.

Get a Dog and Get Walking

It’s the same prescription, regardless of your body mass index (BMI). If you’re slim, keep walking the dog. If you’re chubby, start walking both of you.

Next time, we’ll look at how the hell so many of America’s canines became supersized.

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