Whenever we are looking for a partner to exercise, many of us think only about our friend, neighbor or loved ones. We often leave out a good partner in our weight loss support – men’s best friend (if you have one). Few months ago, I was amazed to see a young teenage girl who ran with her two dogs in my neighborhood. Nowadays, every time I pass by the park, I saw them running together. Not one round, but few rounds and they have really good stamina!
According to one study, those who exercise with dog tend to keep the routine and spend more time exercise each session compared to those who exercise alone. I am not trying to urge you to get a dog for the sake of getting you to exercise. After all, having a dog is a serious responsibility not to be taken lightly. I am telling you that you may want to consider to get your dog involved in helping you to lead an active healthy lifestyle.
Jessica Biel with her dogs.
If you are considering to power walk or jog with your dog, here are few things you must be aware of:
- Just like human, dogs have habit too. For instance, once you bring your dog out regularly in every evening, it will beg you to get up and get going once it knows the exercise time. It is indeed hard to say no to those pleading dog eyes. So, if you want your dog to bug you to exercise, bring them out for one week and they will help you keep the routine.
- According to my cousin brother who has few Golden Retrievers, he uses two different leashes (dog chains at collar) – one for exercise, the other strictly for sniffing and potty break. So, whenever his dogs see him using the leash meant for exercise, they know that it means serious jogging. You will be surprised to know how smart a dog can learn.
- If you dog is still a young puppy, do not jog for too long. Same with overweight dogs, you may want to take things slowly because jogging too long may hurt their joints. Moderation is essential.
- Dogs stick out their tongue when they are overheat. Avoid exercising with them on hot afternoons. You may want to carry water or some treats for them. Alternatively, let them carry their own water. Check out How Your Dog Can Carry Its Own Food and Water. Also, you have to be familiar with the sign your dog is getting tired. Do not push it too hard, especially if it just starts exercising like you do.
- I often hear people telling me that their dogs run too fast. Depending on the dogs, some will stop and wait for their masters to catch up whereas some will run non-stop. My 60 year-old uncle does not run fast. He power walks for about 3 kilometers every early morning and his best buddy is none other than his Labrador. His dog will run about 20 meters, then wait for my uncle to catch up before running further up. Training dogs may take time and patience, but the effort is worth it.
- For people who find jogging is boring, having a dog to join provides much fun. My neighbor told me his Dalmatian like to sniff for squirrels and chase after them. He then joins his dog for occasional intense burst of chasing these small creatures.
- If you want a dog to accompany for a bike ride, you may need a longer-legged and energetic breed. Do not expect a Shi Tsu can catch up with you if you are on a bicycle.
- In addition to jogging, ball catching is another common exercise you can do it with your dog. However, in this case, do not just throw the ball and wait for your pets to get back for you. Once you throw it, run together with them pretending you are competing with it to get the ball too.
In addition to becoming a workout buddy, here are few exercise tips we all can learn from dog while exercising:
- Drink water regularly throughout the exercise.
- Enjoy the scene. Stop and smell the rose.
- Stretch. The yoga pose “Down Dog” is designed after dog’s pose of “tail up and paws forward” stretch movement.
- Live in the moment. When you are exercising, forget about your job. Release your stress. Embrace whatever you are doing.
Trust me, most dogs love to run. When you exercise with them, there is a tremendous sense of camaraderie. Unlike your other human workout body, your dog will never cancel at the last minute. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they are always ready. If you have always jogged on your own and have a dog at home, may be you should consider getting it to join you for once and see how it goes. Like what my cousin brother told me, “Once you have few dogs, you don’t need a club membership.”
Does your dog get you to exercise more too?
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