Julie Casey and her pooch Sparkie enjoy walking along the beach.
Julie Casey and her pooch Sparkie enjoy walking along the beach. Northern Star

Going 'walkies' keeps Julie fit

WHILE Julie Casey has been a self-admitted 'gym junkie' since the 1980s when she lived in Sydney, for the past seven years her main exercise motivation has been a four-legged friend, Sparkie the Tenterfield terrier.

“Sparkie is our first dog,” says Julie, who lives in Ballina with her husband, Jon.

“She always comes first and gets at least two good walks a day. It's hard to believe she's seven. She's so active people still think she's a puppy.

“But when we got her our friend (and veterinarian) Dave Shaw told us exactly the regime to care for her with the proper food and regular exercise. These small dogs are prone to getting chubby if they don't get enough walks.”

Julie, who was formerly Style Northern Rivers' advertising executive, is finishing up her holiday break while checking out some promising offers for next year.

“I've rejoined the Riverside Gym in Ballina and Sparkie is getting more walks,” says Julie. “When I'm really busy the gym might slide, but Sparkie always gets the walks she needs. She also gets to play with a ball in the back of the reserve.”

Julie and Jon also ride bicycles around the town, taking advantage of Ballina's bike tracks.

“We bought pushbikes when we first moved up here,” Julie says. “We ride into Ballina and get a fruit juice and ride back. It's a lovely ride. Originally we wanted to take Sparkie with us in the basket on the front, but she wasn't keen on that!”

Julie also enjoys going for a swim in the ocean, as they live near the beach, and playing social golf.

“I like playing with Jon on a Sunday,” says Julie. “He's more competitive, but that's too serious for me. Sometimes I'll hit a really good shot and someone will ask what my handicap is and I'll say '27' and they'll be surprised, but they don't see all the not-good shots!”

While Julie has built in a range of different forms of exercise into her life, walking is her year-round favourite.

“We know nearly everyone on the walk, it's quite social,” Julie says. “I really think a good walk is great exercise.

“A lot of people will talk to you when you have a dog and you get to see things and hear the birds. I don't understand people who go running with headphones. They miss the sound of the ocean and seeing the whales going past, they're so focused on their iPods! I love taking Sparkie down to Angels Beach and along the dog walk areas, it's so beautiful.”

Aside from varying exercise, Julie says that eating a healthy diet is very important to her and her husband.

“We eat well with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood and good meat,” Julie says. “We never eat junk food. I also take vitamin tablets every day - it's all part of keeping fit.

“When I went down to Sydney recently to see friends I hadn't seen for five years they said they couldn't believe I hadn't changed.

“Even when I was really busy with my job, and didn't have as much time for going to the gym, I was still very active; always running around seeing clients. Keeping fit and healthy is important to me as it helps me balance things when life gets busy.”

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