By Mary Ferguson
A FITNESS programme that tackles both human and pet obesity is seeing a surge in popularity, amongst people keen to make their furry friends their workout partners.
‘Petsercise’ was launched by the Pet Health Council to encourage owners to exercise with their dogs, and was developed in conjunction with celebrity fitness expert Nicki Waterman and veterinary surgeon Dr Alex German, from the Pet Obesity Clinic at the University of Liverpool.
The programme, which is is supported by former public health minister Caroline Flint, suggests fun outdoor exercise activities and provides online tools such as a food diary – designed for both two and four legged participants.
Users of the website can key in their own height and weight to calculate body mass index, but there is no single approved method to determine whether a dog is under or overweight.
An estimated 41 per cent of dogs and cats in the UK are thought to be overweight, with 15 per cent identified as clinically obese. Research has also shown that the correlation between overweight owners and their pets is high, and recognition of a weight problem by owners is low.
A spokesman from the Pet Health Council said: “Research carried out by us revealed that while people are keen to keep fit and lose weight, twice as many people said they would like to do so by making use of nearby parks and countryside rather than joining a gym.
“Another study has also demonstrated that people and their pets are both more successful in staying with a weight loss programme when they exercise together.
“The benefits of walking in the fresh air as well as the physiological and psychological benefits of pet interaction are well documented and so a programme like Petsercise is very appealing.”
The exercise programme contains activities such as swimming with your dog in open water, playing football – the dog uses his mouth to move the ball – and more traditional exercise such as running and walking.
Go backPosted on 25th July 2007