Today is National Pet Day, so let’s talk about the benefits of working out with your dog for you AND your pup.
Many people have said that spending time with your dog can fill your heart with love and joy. But what people don’t know is that spending time with those four-legged friends does so much more than that. Studies have shown that having or hanging out with dogs can lower your blood pressure, decrease cholesterol, and improve your cardiovascular system altogether. And to top all of that, dogs are the best workout partners! They are always excited to follow you out the door and they will never cancel on you last minute.
In general, people that workout with their dogs seem to be more motivated and eager to workout each day (or every other day). In fact, a recent study done by Purdue University found that people who knew the benefits of working out with their dogs increased their activity time per week from 10 minutes to 80 minutes. It seems as though people put their own health second to their pups but at the same time increasing health for both themselves and their furry friend.
Another good reason it is better to workout with your dog is that it doesn’t feel like a workout at all. It feels more like playtime and distracts you from feeling tired or not wanting to go on. Another thing to think about is that the happiness and tail wagging of your dog is pretty contagious. It’ll rub off on you and help make you enjoy working out a little more.
Dogs are a creature of habit. If you get them into the routine of a morning or afternoon run, each day at that time they will bug you to put on your shoes and take them out for a jog or a little exercise, which can help combat the feeling of laziness or not wanting to.
Below are a few fun ideas on how to workout with your dog:
1. Running or walking in the park, on the beach or through your neighborhood is an excellent option.
- We burn close to the same amount of calories as dogs do while working out.
- In general terms, dogs spend about 0.8 calories per pound while we humans shed 0.73 calories per pound.
- We also run or speed walk the same speed dogs seem to like best.
- Most dogs seem to enjoy walking at about 15-17 minute mile paces, which is a brisk walk for you - and arguably one of the best walking speeds to help you stay healthy.
- If you have a bigger more active dog, it could be a good idea to ride a bike or rollerblade while your dog runs next to you.
2. Playing fetch is fun for you and your dog.
- Instead of waiting for your dog to retrieve the ball for you, try racing him or her to the ball.
- Pick up a ball thrower from the pet store. Maximize the exerciser, and take the strain off your arms
- If you like to throw a Frisbee, some dogs are amazing partners. Just make sure it's not your Golf Frisbee or favorite, as you're sure to get teeth marks in it.
3. Swimming is a great anaerobic exercise for you and your pup.
- It is gentle on joints and very beneficial.
- It provides great fun and enjoyment on a hot day.
- Do be careful if other animals and people are around however.
- If you're going to be in the water for a while, or out on a paddle board, remember life jackets for both of you.
4. Hiking is great for the adventurous type and it caters to a dog's natural inclination to explore.
- Lots of sights and new smells to keep you and your dog excited.
- Adding some terrain changes adds a little more exercise and benefit to the outing.
- Make sure you've got a leash along if you're unfamiliar with the area.
- Keep an eye out for snakes or other critters your hiking partner may come across before you do.
The health benefits to this are astounding. Regular aerobic exercise can help keep you and your pet healthier. Studies over the past twenty years have shown that maintaining lean body mass and aerobic fitness reduce risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, respiratory conditions and many forms of cancer just to name a few. So get out there and start moving with your pup!
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