Squeezing a workout into your daily schedule when you have a busy lifestyle can be tough. Our time often needs to be dedicated to other pursuits like cooking, cleaning, commuting, reading, and of course taking care of our beloved four legged family members. Some of us find time for the gym and maintain a healthy fitness regimen, but the gym time takes away from our dog’s exercise, attention and affection time. What’s the solution? Start turning your dog walking time into fitness time for the both of you.
Not only is regular brisk walking with your dog exceptionally good for their health and yours, but making dog walking about fitness helps you stay motivated. When our workout isn’t just all about us, the usual excuses not to exercise tend to ring hollow. We can’t be too tired, because our dog needs us. We can’t be too busy, because our dog needs us. The weather is never too bad, because our dog needs that time and exercise. There are more benefits for you both than just getting fit and staying that way, too.
Health Benefits of Regular Walking
Even 20 minutes of exercise a day walking your dog has a good deal of positive health effects now and in the future. Here are some highlights:
- Risk of breast cancer is reduced by 75 percent
- Risk of heart disease is decreased by 49 percent
- Risk of Diabetes reduced up to 35 percent
- Risk of colon cancer lowered by 22 percent
That’s some pretty compelling data to keep you motivated about your fitness and workouts. Better still, there are similar health benefits for your faithful furry companion, too. You should always get your dog checked out by your veterinarian before starting a new exercise routine. So how do you go about making this walking fitness happen? Here are some tips and tricks.
Easy Ways to Turn Your Dog Walking Into A Workout
There are many approaches to implementing a fitness regimen with your dog on a daily basis, but let’s take a look at a few of the easiest ones to start you out.
Set a Brisk Pace
The smallest and simplest changes are often the most powerful. It may seem a little obvious, but keeping a brisk rate of speed while you walk increases the benefits of your daily walk. Give yourself 2-5 minutes of your walk to warm up, then push yourself to walk quickly for the rest of your workout.
Sustained exercise helps you build up your endurance over time, and you will find you can walk faster for longer when you add distance to your daily walks.
Make Use of Elevation
Walking uphill and downhill (provided you have hills in your area) can add a significant boost to the amount of calories you and your dog burn during your walk, and helps you build up your strength and stamina more rapidly.
Intervals Work Wonders
Rather than walking at a rapid pace for the entire workout, try spreading it out into 30 second bursts over the course of your walk. Walk at a leisurely pace for a minute, then rapidly for 30 seconds, then at a natural pace again for another minute. This helps ease your body and muscles into working out without putting undue strain on them if you are new to personal fitness.
Take a Strength Training Break
While you are out at the park with your dog, give them a break to sniff around and rest a bit. Once your dog is occupied, do some stretching and calisthenics. Learn some yoga poses that help strengthen your walking muscles and your upper body, or do some push-ups, sit-ups or leg lifts as you are able. If the ground isn’t suitable for floor work, substitute squats, jumping jacks, and lunges. You don’t need to go for the world record here, but strength training is one of the most effective ways to get fit and stay fit even if you are older and less mobile than you used to be.
Make Time for Play Time
Once your strength training is out of the way, it’s time to break out the dog toys for some fetch or tug-o-war. These are great cardio and strength training for your dog, and it helps older dogs maintain their coordination and mobility longer.
Are you ready to get fit with your dog? Skip the gym, save some money, and give these exercises a try. Go out walking every day, and stick to your routine. Let them be your fitness buddy to help you when you are unmotivated. Both you and your pet will be happier, healthier, and spend more time together now and in the years to come.
If you should have any questions or concerns about a fitness routine for your pet, please contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We will be happy to assist you!