Not everyone has access to a gym with treadmills and weights and personal trainers.  Not everyone has a friend or neighbor to step in as the ideal walking partner.

Not to worry: it turns out that the family dog may be more than just a canine companion, but also one of the best exercise pals around.

One fitness study that has gotten quite a bit of bounce this summer - in newspapers, magazines and blogs - is about the health benefits of walking your dog.  George Washington University Exercise Scientist Cindy Lentino researched dog owners who walk their dogs, dog owners who don't walk their dogs themselves and people who don't have dogs.

"There's definitely something special about dogs. They are inherently active animals.  Dogs give owners a sense of purpose in that they need to be walked and humans need exercise, so I think that is the key,’" she said in Arthritis Today magazine.

In studying 916 middle-aged adults, Lentino concluded that those who regularly walked their dog had fewer hours of sitting per day, lower body mass index (BMI), lower tobacco use, fewer chronic conditions and symptoms of depression, and greater social support.  She presented her preliminary findings at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting in June.

Fitness experts have long talked about the motivational factor of having an exercise partner.  In some ways, a canine partner enforces motivation.   Rain or shine, heat wave or cold spell, dogs must go out.  An AARP Bulletin survey, for example, found that people who exercise their pets are more likely to maintain their exercise program.

We recognize how important it is to stay active - and to stay hydrated while doing so, for both you and your dog.  Thus, as you go out for what President Harry Truman called his "daily constitutional," be sure you get enough fluids.