Why Your Pet Should Be As Fit As You

Your cat and dog's health affects their lifespan and disease risk. Find out why you should focus on your furry friend's fitness just as much as your own

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Lying on the couch and eating from an automatically re-filled bowl all day wouldn't make for the healthiest of lifestyles-so why do we let our pets do it?

If you're thinking, "But my dog is super fit!", know this: One in every 5 pet cats and dogs are obese, and the extra weight can take up to two-and-a-half years off their life, according to a new report from the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention. Just like with humans, extra pounds come with health issues that shorten their life span: Overweight and obese pets are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, breathing issues, knee injuries, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, and cancer, the report adds. And the scales aren't going down: Pet obesity is on the rise for the fourth straight year, according to 2015 data from pet insurance company Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.

The good news? The prescription for a plump pet is the same as for a hefty human-diet and exercise. Talk to your pet's vet about if you should change his or her diet and how much exercise your animal needs per day. (And don't forget the accessories! The Best Health and Fitness Products for Your Pet.)

And this may actually be just the news you need to reach your own fitness goals: When people found out their dogs were overweight and needed to move more, even sedentary pet owners were motivated to walk their dog far more often to save their pup's health-and both the owners and pets were thinner after three months, found a study in the journal Anthrozoos. (Yep, that's really what the journal is called.)

Want something more creative than just a walk? Try one of these 4 Ways to Get Fit with Fido.

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