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Get Fit, Get Fido

There's a lot to be said, most of it involving incomprehensible grunting, moaning and groaning, for staying in shape.

There's a lot to be said, most of it involving incomprehensible grunting, moaning and groaning, for staying in shape.

It increases your level of attractiveness. (Equally, winning the lottery will do this and allow you to remain a lardass). It makes you feel better. It increases the amount of energy you have. It enhances your self confidence. It helps you to live a longer, healthier and happier life. It even promises you prolonged levels of stamina in the bedroom. Oh great, more incomprehensible grunting, moaning and groaning. Your upstairs neighbours will be pleased.

The problem is that exercise also takes so much effort. It's time consuming. It's expensive- the average gym membership costing upwards of £600 per annum. Plus, and this is the vitally important bit, it's so bloody boring.

If you thought the movie version of Les Miserables ("I dreamed a dream in time gone by. When waist was slim. And cake worth eating") would never end, try experiencing the eternal damnation that is 30 minutes on a stairmaster.

Just when you think that the torture must surely be up, you glance down to discover that you've only been stepping for 40 seconds.

"That's quite enough", you say to yourself. After all, you don't want to go too crazy for the first week, do you? Maybe not, but this is your eleventh month and while the pounds aren't exactly dropping off, your enthusiasm and interest definitely is.

Look at the other people in your local Fitness First or Virgin Active. Half of them don't want to be there either. They'd rather be anywhere else: Kandahar, Pyongyang, Mogadishu, but preferably at home, nodding off in front of the television with a giant tin of Quality Street for company.

Keeping trim, however, doesn't have to be a difficult, pricey and painful experience. It can actually be rewarding and fun.

Yes, you read correctly, FUN!

It's all down to the type of equipment you use.

For instance, does your running machine leap up and greet you with a wet, slobbering kiss every time it sees you? (Or is that your personal trainer? "Get down, Raul").

Well, it does if it's a dog. (As opposed to said personal trainer, at least he/ she has an excuse for constantly wanting to hump people's legs).

Man's best friend needs putting through its paces every bit as regularly as man. So why not combine the two?

High time then to ditch the lycra for a lead.

Depending on the type of pooch, you could find yourself sweating up a storm for 2-3 hours a day.

To regain that svelte figure of your youth, there are plenty of active varieties to take your pick from.

These are some of the liveliest.

Border Collie, Dalmatian (one is sufficient- no need for the full complement of 101), Jack Russell, Weimaraner, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Vizsla, Springer Spaniel and Irish Setter. All of them will leave you similarly exhausted.

Alternatively, if you want to go for total out and out knackeredness, you could always plump for a terrier cross. A little fireball of zip and zeal like our own dear Sniff, who is more than capable of outperforming a greyhound and, I have no doubt, Usain Bolt.

For those humans who simply want to give the merest impression of exertion, there are several other less energetic options.

The Cavalier King Charles, for instance. Haven't members of royalty always been prone to laziness? Then there's the Pekingese, the Japanese Chin and the Puggle - a hybrid between a pug and a bagel. Oops sorry, I was suddenly overcome by hunger pangs. Obviously, I meant beagle.

Finally, how about the daddy of do-nothingness? Namely the English Bulldog, for whom a trip to the postbox and back is like a marathon.

Canine ownership in all its forms is, of course, wonderful in theory. In practice it might be a little trickier. Especially if your home isn't big enough to swing a cat in, which is frequently the case in London.

Here I believe there's a neat entrepreneurial solution. Boris Barks. Naturally sponsored by Barklays, the bank that likes to make you beg and jump through hoops for a loan, then refuses to give you one.

Unlike Boris Bikes, which admittedly don't have a habit of pooping when you least expect it, the big difference with this concept is that the docking stations are kennels. You simply choose the temporary furry four-legged companion you want and take it to the park, returning it when they and you are both dog tired.

Failing all this, perhaps it really is best to admit defeat, let yourself go to seed and simply get a budgie.