Owning a dog is a marvelous experience in many ways. Dogs are highly social and affectionate animals who have plenty to offer in the way of companionship, protection, and just plain fun. Have you considered the fact that dog ownership could have a positive effect on your physical fitness as well? Read on to learn more about how your canine companion can help you get fit.
In general, people who own dogs will gravitate toward other people who own dogs. Whether this comes as a result of frequent visits to the local dog park or a standing dog walking date with a neighbor, you’ll find that your circle of friends will expand once you’ve introduced a furry companion into your life. Since exercising provides a great way to build rapport, your mental health will get a strong workout, too.
A Personal Workout Partner
If you’re buying a puppy, there’s a lot more to consider than how cute he or she looks in photographs. There are tons of different dog breeds, all with their own personalities and activity needs, so it’s important to be very honest with yourself and do your research so you can determine what breed will be the best fit for your needs and goals.
Love hiking? Consider a Labrador or Bernese mountain dog, both energetic breeds with stout bodies well-suited for the trail. Distance runners should see if there are any Vizsla or Dalmatian puppies available in their area. Many smaller breeds, such as the Parson Russell terrier, also enjoy running, but they’re better suited to shorter, faster sprints.
Source: Puppy Breeds Overview
An All-Natural Alarm Clock
While you may be tempted to sleep in and skip your workout from time to time, this is a lot tougher to do when there’s a pooch around. Dogs are hardwired to wake with an excess of energy, and they like to make sure that all the members of their pack (yes, that includes their human family) are up and ready to go at the same time. Nothing will get you out of bed faster than a wet pink nose in your face. As long as you’re awake, why not lace up some sneakers and take Fido for a stroll?
When you’re first training your dog to walk on a leash, he or she will be inclined to pull and tug, giving your arms a solid workout. Try to keep this in mind while reining your furry friend back in, and resist the urge to use your body as a counterweight, unless the breed is very large, in which case you’ll have no choice.
Smaller Can Be Better
Many people believe that toy or small breed dogs don’t need to be walked as often as larger breeds. The truth is that all dogs benefit from some form of exercise, and many small ones, such as pugs or French bulldogs, don’t get as much as they need. Do your research before deciding on which breed to adopt, and be sure you have the time to devote to their needs.
Another way in which owning a smaller dog might contribute to your fitness as the owner? They may tire more easily and want to be picked up midway through the workout, giving you extra weight to carry for maximum calorie burn. You’ll both be satisfyingly exhausted by the time you get home.
Facing the Weather
When it’s pouring rain, the last thing you want to do is put on workout gear and head out into the deluge. But when you have a dog, you don’t have a choice about it. Just as it’s impossible to sleep in once a puppy comes on board, it’s much tougher to justify skipping a workout on account of bad weather.
One caveat: Some breeds don’t do well in certain weather conditions, and precautions should be taken for humans and canines alike when dealing with extremely hot or cold temperatures. When in doubt, try engaging your pup in some form of active indoor play instead.
A Swimming Partner
Speaking of hot temperatures, swimming can also serve as an excellent substitute when it’s too humid to go for a long walk or run. You can get in on the action by playing a few games of fetch with your dog in the waves before taking a dip yourself. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, however, and some are even fearful of the water. Make sure your dog knows how to swim before turning him or her loose in your local lake or pond.
Yes, this is a thing. It’s also known as “doga,” and it involves taking your dog along with you to yoga class or just keeping him or her around while you practice the various positions. Your furry friend can stand on you while you engage in the poses yourself and even join you in some of the simpler stretches. Doga enthusiasts swear that using their dog as a bulwark helps them to position their bodies more efficiently, thereby leading to a more effective workout. In addition to being superb exercise for both you and your dog, this can serve as a great bonding experience.
The Cleanup Crew
Even if you only take your dog on a couple of 20-minute walks per day (though more is recommended for larger or more active breeds), chances are you’ll get in a few leg squats anyway. Depending on where you live, you’ll have to clean up the dog’s mess when he or she gets the urge to go. This adds up to a fair amount of squatting and lifting, enough that you’re likely to feel the burn at some point.
If you’re searching for a reason to talk yourself into adopting a puppy or even an older dog, look no further. Whatever your chosen form of exercise, owning a dog can help you achieve your fitness goals much more quickly—and you’ll have a wonderful time along the way.
Are you having trouble reaching your fitness goals alone? Fitology is here to help. Our personal trainers are wonderful coaches who want to help you succeed on your journey towards a fitter, healthier, stronger you!