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."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on being active as an adult.
SOURCES: Robert Kushner, M.D., professor, medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago; Deborah Wood, Portland, Ore.; Dawn Marcus, M.D., professor, department of anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Obesity