In today’s hectic world, finding time to work out can be a challenge. And with more than 2 in 3 American adults considered to be overweight and more than 1 in 3 obese, it’s never been more important to get out there and do something to help fight the flab. And it’s not just us humans that are piling on the pounds… In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese (Association for Pet Obesity)! So, isn’t it time to take action, for the benefit of your health and your pets? An active lifestyle has always been championed by health officials to help curb weight- related diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. But while we may have the best of intentions, actually switching off the TV, getting up off the couch, putting on a pair of running or walking shoes and heading out for a brisk walk or jog after a long day at the office is far more difficult than it should be. Unless you have a workout partner. And in our view, dogs make the best workout partners imaginable. Here’s why…
1. They get your butt off the couch
Dogs have a very good memory and they also need and crave exercise. Take your dog out for a brisk walk or jog at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning and repeat this at the same time on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning, you’ll find a wagging tail waiting faithfully at your doorstep, eagerly anticipating the second where you slip on your trainers, pick up the dog lead and head out the door together. Even if you had contemplated skipping your run that day, knowing that your dog needs to be exercised and seeing his or her enthusiastic panting should quickly have you changing into your exercise gear. Your dog’s inbuilt energy will help to keep you on the straight and narrow and is sure to have you exercising every day.
2. Dogs are a great way to get social
We probably all know someone who met the love of their life while walking their dogs? And
if not the love of their life, maybe a date or even someone who’s since become a valued
friend? The relationship we have with our dogs not only brings us emotional fulfilment, it
also brings us many opportunities for social interaction with like-minded people that is all
too absent nowadays.
A weekly hike around your local dog-friendly trail, a daily jog around your neighbourhood and frequent trips to play ball in the dog park (all accompanied of course by your four- legged accountability partner) will not only ramp up your daily step count and help get some much-needed fresh air into your lungs, but will also give you the opportunity to meet and greet new people. And who doesn’t like to meet other people whose dogs mean the world to them?
3. Keeping pace
When going out for a walk it’s important to keep up an active pace to maximise the health benefits. This best pace is shown to be about 15-17 minutes per mile, which is also a natural speed for our dogs and one that most enjoy walking at. Having our four-legged friend as our walking-buddy will give you a natural speedometer that is far more entertaining than continually checking your Fitbit! If you notice your dog stopping too frequently, you should try speeding up because you’re probably slower than the recommended walking pace.
4. Ever present, always available.
We’re yet to find that dog that will adamantly refuse to go for that run or walk or swim. Unless suffering from health issues, dogs are always more than willing to go out with you, not like our human partners that will undoubtedly fail you one time or another as work, family or even TV-related “commitments” get in the way! This provides great motivation to maintain a regular exercise routine and you know they will never get bored or find something more interesting to do!
5. Simply Rewarding
No words can express the emotional bond that forms between humans and our dogs. Tracing way back to our earliest ancestors, this wonderful relationship is now certainly rooted in our genes. Our dogs long to spend more time with us and while he or she may not understand the health-giving benefits of regular exercise, they know they want to get out, have fun and spend time with their human…AKA you! It’s a life time responsibility to make your dog happy and to keep them healthy, through correct feeding, plenty of exercise and also with plenty of quality time with us humans. And your dog-partnered work outs will be deeply rewarding, both physically and emotionally. Another great thing about working out with our dogs is that there’s so much that you can do, so you’ll never get bored. Walking, running, bike riding, rollerblading, throwing and fetching, working out with your dog as he plays, biking, hiking, and swimming in the local lake or sea are all activities you can enjoy together. Just remember to check the weather forecast before you head out, so you are adequately prepared. If you’re planning an intense or extended workout, remember to bring fresh water and a drinking bowl for your dog, so you both remain hydrated. During the summer months keep an eye out for extra hot pavements which will be uncomfortable for your pet and if you have any questions about any health issues your dog might have or its own individual exercise needs, do consult your veterinarian.
Then all that’s left to say is to get out there, enjoy this beautiful world we life in and the love and energy that exercising with your dog will bring to your life.