5 Fun, Healthy, and Interactive Ways to Stay in Shape With Your Dog!
12 June, 2017
Guest blog by: Mathew Bojerski
What if I told you that you could lose 10-15 lbs in the next month with your very own personal trainer that lives with you. Would you believe me? “You might be thinking…who? My wife? She’s not a personal trainer!” Nope! Not your wife….your dog! “But I already walk my dog…isn’t that good enough?”
A study at Michigan State University published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that people with canine companions were 34% more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week compared to those without dogs as pets.
That’s good news for us humans because most of the workout partners we try teaming up with either cancel half the time or fall off the boat after a month or two.
Not with your dog. Your dog is 100% ready to go at any moment’s notice.
Not only that, they seem to have what seems like infinite energy and a happy tank that never drains.
It might just be the motivation you need to drop a couple pant or dress sizes.
On a more serious note…dogs need daily exercise just like we do. It’s important for maintaining proper cardiovascular function, muscle tone and mental health. Implementing a solid exercise routine with your dog is a great way to get the daily exercise both of you need to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.
While there are a variety of different ways you can exercise with your furry friend, I’m going to discuss 5 of them that are the most practical and effective.
In this article we’re stressing practicality and effectiveness because these are what drive results, builds consistency and gets us moving!
(And while going paddleboarding might be seem like a stellar idea (it is!), we just know 9/10 people won’t do it.)
So, let’s jump right into 5 healthy, fun and interactive ways to stay in shape with your dog!
#1 – Running
A tried, tested and true method of exercise that delivers short term and long term benefits! While running isn’t everyone’s favorite physical activity…it’s actually one of the best forms of exercise we can engage in.
And that is true not only for ourselves, but for our furry friends as well. Running helps improve the function of our heart, lungs and other vital organs while also helping us to burn calories and build muscle in our legs. Not to mention it pumps endorphins into our body which helps relieve stress, anxiety and even depression which improves our mental health and perspective.
Your dog also loves running too! Studies have shown running helps them lead happier healthier lives and even extends their lifespan. Running also helps calm them down because of the energy spent exercising.
Your pet craves a sense of adventure just as we humans do, so taking your dog on different routes and running trips will positively affect their mood and overall well-being.
Just bring water to ensure they’re hydrated and don’t over exert them. Some dogs will need to build up their stamina and endurance. Remember that dogs don’t sweat the same way we do, so the temperature outside is a factor you should consider. All in all, running is one of the best ways to exercise with your dog.
#2 – Swimming
Swimming with your dog can be fun (and funny…come on…who doesn’t love watching a doggy paddle?).
One of the major benefits of swimming as a form of exercise as opposed to other forms is that because you’re in a large body of water, there is very low impact on joints and muscles. This is beneficial for anyone (or any pet) that is recovering from an injury or has a medical issue preventing them from doing a more intense activity like running or sprinting.
Your dog will likely run his or her own course once she gets comfortable in the water, but to make things interactive you can always find a water toy for your dog and play fetch. It’s a great way to bond and ensure your dog stays within reach.
But before you jump into the pool with your dog, it’s important to be aware of some safety precautions and tell-tale signs that your dog might be struggling in the water. Learn about a few of them here.
#3 – Playing Fetch
While this one doesn’t need a ton of explanation, what’s noteworthy here is how you can exercise during this game as well. Depending on your level of fitness and mobility, you should incorporate different calisthenic exercises in between throwing the ball or stick so you can squeeze in some exercise as well.
The top 3 I recommend are air squats, push ups and sit ups. You can choose to do sets of 5-10 reps, alternating between each throw. This will give you the chance to work every part of your body while giving your dog the time of his or her life.
You can also buy a set of dumbbells and use a weight that you’re comfortable with to add resistance and make things even more intense. Of course, dumbbells will give you an even wider variety of exercises to engage in like bicep curls, shoulder and back exercises and just about anything else you could find or want in a gym setting.
#4 – Playing Tag
If you’re trying to burn fat, this is your best bet. Playing tag with your dog is easy. They’ll naturally chase you anywhere you go so the point of the exercise is to run or sprint away from your dog for a period of time perhaps 5-20 seconds (whatever you’re comfortable with) and then take a quick rest pause to catch your breath. Repeat this for as many cycles as you can until both of you are exhausted.
This constant back and forth of exertion at a high level (75% or more) and short rest period will skyrocket your fat burning and help burn calories like a machine. It’s a great way to keep a workout short, intense and effective.
#5 – Walk or Jog Stairs
Stairs are a great way to build muscle and tone the legs. Because going up stairs is a constant source of tension on your legs, you’re going to get a great cardiovascular workout and break a sweat. This is a great sign that your exercise is effective and that you’re getting all the benefits exercise has to offer.
In an exercise like this, you’ll want to use a leash that is around 24’ in length to ensure your dog doesn’t get too far ahead of you. If both indoor and outdoor settings, make sure there is a handlebar or guard rail to ensure proper safety and always carry a water bottle with you in case it gets too hot.
Dogs might just be the fun, loving and motivating partners we need to stick to our exercising habits. And while they don’t cancel on a Friday night workout (like we sometimes wish they would…) they help us remain disciplined, consistent and committed to our health.
While there are a ton of other ways you can work out with your dog, these 5 will consistently generate you great results that you’ll feel likely feel in the morning (ouch it’s sore…) and notice looking in the mirror.
Author: Mathew Bojerski