Four-Legged Physical Fitness

photoIf you had intended to get fit and shed a few pounds this year, forget going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer. You’ve got your own motivating workout buddy at home – your dog! It’s likely that he’ll benefit from the exercise, too. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that 45 percent of canines are overweight or obese, and that extra weight can affect their health negatively. Proper exercise and diet will result in weight loss for both dogs and humans.

Why should you exercise with your dog? First of all, most canines are more than eager to spend time with their owner and outdoors. A study called People and Pets Exercising Together also found that dogs make great and reliable workout partners. And finally, the time you and your pet spend together will make your bond stronger.

Here are some ideas for getting fit with your canine companion. If either of you are new to exercising or stepping up the intensity and duration of your workouts, consult your doctor and/or vet first, and remember to move at your own pace!

Walk It Off

A study by the University of Missouri-Columbia revealed that walking your dog regularly can help you lose weight. Participants in the study began by walking 10 minutes a day, three days a week, and slowly worked their way up to 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Consistency is key here, as those who followed the program for 50 weeks lost an average of 14 pounds, while those who walked 26 weeks did not see any significant results.

Go Hiking

If your pooch loves his daily walks and going to the dog park, try hiking! He can explore the new surroundings while you take in the great outdoors and wide open spaces of national forests and local state parks. You can search for dog-friendly trails and parks online.

Work It Out

Did you know there are exercises that people and pets can do together? Instructions and videos are available on the Internet for workouts such as power walks, obstacle courses, squats, fetch races, and more.

Be Seen

For short winter days, bring along some nighttime canine gear and toys to stay safe and visible in the darkness.

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