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WORK OUT WITH YOUR PET! KATHY KAEHLER Talks About Getting Fit Together

“Today Show” fitness expert Kathy Kaehler, author of “Real-World Fitness”, who has worked with celebs like Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford, Samuel L. Jackson, and Drew Barrymore, along with top veterinarian Dan Christian and pet care company Purina have developed a new “Healthy Steps Plan for Pets and Their People,” a program to help dogs, cats, and their humans get healthier through working out together.

With Fido as the chosen partner, the duos “ROADMAP TO WELLNESS” helps people and pets develop a wellness routine. The program’s uniqueness stems from its holistic approach – a combination of diet, exercise and environment – and the collaborative development efforts of a fitness specialist and a pet expert. They realized that the needs of each person and each pet may be different, so they designed a plan that can be tailored to each wellness team. The plan educates pet owners about easy ways to jazz up their pets’ exercise routines, how to perform a therapeutic pet massage, and the meaning of vocal cues and body language of a companion.

How does this program work? First, pet owners can go to the Purina website at www.purina.com/healthysteps to select from one of three levels of achievement: Wellness Basics, Getting Fit and Healthy Together. Within each level are three categories and each category is comprised of “People Activities” from Kathy and “Pet Activities” from Dr. Dan. The activities range from healthy eating and dental hygiene to environment and general fitness. Pet owners select a minimum of four activities, or steps, from each category to accomplish. Next, participants can go to the Purina website to print out a downloadable chart to monitor their progress. Upon completion of a level, participants may revisit the site and select activities from the next level of their wellness program.

Kaehler tells Dish, “People who have a pet have a much better chance of being in shape and being more fit than people who don’t, and you can kind of look at the obvious reason, because with a pet you’re going to get a little more walking, and that really is the case because walking is one of the best ways to get better cardiovascular fitness, but it’s also a great way to burn body fat and tone your lower body.”

“Also, there’s stretching. Your dog is very used to the commands you probably went to puppy school to learn, the sit, the stay, the come and you can incorporate that back into the walk because they need mental stimulation just like people do. For example, you talk your dog for a walk and you get ready to cross the street and you tell your dog to sit and then stay and then do it again on the other side. It encourages a relationship between the two of you, but it’s also healthy for them.”

But what if your pet is not as fit as you are? Says Kaehler, “You might have to think about building it up for them. For example, if you have already been going for say 5 miles, but your pet is just starting out, you might have them sit or stay while you jump rope for a minute or so until they catch up.”

But what about a cat person? Kaehler explains, “One of the things you can do is feed your cat so the food is up high, and they have to jump up to get it. I thought that was so great because it just encourages them to do a little bit of physical activity. If your cat likes a treat of some type or a toy, get them to go up and down on their hind legs, kind of like a tease but actually it’s an exercise. You can even make it like a game, and see how long they’ll do it.

“A lot of people even walk their cats,” she continues. “There are even leashes you can get for your cat. In the beginning, you can start on a long driveway, and maybe after that you could go a few blocks. If you’re at home, put some yarn in your pocket and let your cat chase it as you walk around the house. Again, it just encourages them to be active.”

“The Healthy Steps Plan” works because it provides the fundamental building blocks to address all your wellness needs, including adapting to lifestyle changes and supplying a tracker to monitor progress throughout the program,” concludes Kaehler, a dog lover herself who owns three black labs. Kaehler believes that everyone should try to adopt a lifestyle incorporating fitness and good nutrition. “We believe it’s little steps every day, week or month that keep you on the road to a lifetime of wellness.”

To register for Purina's free Healthy Steps Plan, visit www.purina.com/healthysteps The site also provides free pet health information via Purina resources.

Fitness is a very personal subject, according to Kaehler. She welcomes your questions or comments at her website www.healthEtips.com

Finally, Kaehler is currently on tour with a new book, called “Kathy Kaehler’s Celebrity Workout”. She says, “I have some gals in the book that I’ve trained over the past 10 years- Michelle Pfeiffer, and I have some very exclusive photos of Julia Roberts and I that her husband took; there’s definitely celebrity involved. The workouts are designated for each of the gals, and I have recipes from celebrity chefs, but it basically tells you how you can work out at home. You don’t need equipment to stay fit, so in the book I talk about how you can find exercises you can do with a chair or a wall; and how a person needs to look into themselves, and be as active as you can be because it improves the quality of your life.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 75 - September 7425
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