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December 28, 2017 4 min read

by@muzaluiza Licensed UnderCC0

Research shows that obesity is contagious. That is, people adopt unhealthy habits from their social circle. On the flip side, you can develop healthier practices when you have accountability. If you can’t get your friends to support you in your efforts to exercise more, your dog would be happy to be your partner.


People With Dogs Tend To Exercise More

Science News reports that having a workout companion can help you boost the amount of exercise that you do. Your furry friend won’t give you excuses, either. In fact, he gets pretty ecstatic when you pull out the leash. That enthusiasm alone is motivating.

This Women’s Health article describes the story of Karen, a 37-year-old who couldn’t harness consistency with her workout routine. After she started working out with her dog, she finished two triathlons and lost 10 pounds.

Studies show that people who own dogs tend to be healthier and fitter than their canine-less peers. Sure, that treadmill in your living room seemed convenient when you bought it. However, you still have to gather the motivation to step on it and get moving.

Your dog doesn’t give you an out. A Michigan State University study found that people with pooches were more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week than people with other pets.


Walking Is One Of The Best Exercises

Even though it’s underrated, walking is one of the best ways to lose weight. You can vary the intensity as much as you want, and you don’t need any equipment to do it. You can walk anywhere.

Keeping up an intense exercise routine may be difficult for some people. How many times have you started a new workout regimen only to drop it when you’re exhausted and can’t muster up the energy? You can take a leisurely walk even when you’re tired, which makes it ideal for creating healthy habits.

NBC News says that the benefits of walking include:

  • Improved fitness
  • Better heart health
  • Reduced depression
  • Less fatigue
  • Better mood
  • Pain reduction
  • Reduced risk of cancer and chronic disease
  • Improved posture
  • Increased endurance
  • Reduced risk of stroke

Walking also reduces body fat and cholesterol, according to this study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. You’re less likely to be starving after you walk than after you jog.

You might not be hungry immediately after you work out, but research shows that some high-intensity aerobic workouts can increase your cravings for sweets. The consistent, low-impact exertion that you do when walking shouldn’t make you want to refuel by chowing down on carbs later.


Walking With Your Dog Makes You Move

When you don’t have your dog with you, you might pop in your headphones and maintain a regular, moderate pace as you go about your daily walk. Bring your dog along, and you must respond to her movements.

You have to be on guard, and you’re more connected to your body. All the stopping and starting can make you move more muscles than you would if you walked alone.


Double Up On Your Workouts


Many people with dogs don’t see their routine walks as a sweat session. If they’re already working out at the gym, doing HIIT training or lifting weights, their strolls are a bonus.

Experts say that splitting up your workouts can be just as effective as doing one long session. You might already walk your dog in the mornings. Adding in another 10-minute walk in the afternoon can burn an additional 50 calories.

If you already take your dog for a walk, try adding in another quick session every day. It will help you and your dog keep your weight down.

People who can’t work in an extra walk might want to add an at-home workout to their routine. Strength training, bodyweight exercises, yoga and HIIT training can be done without fancy equipment. Implementing just 10 more minutes of exercise a day adds up to more than an hour of additional activity each week.


Increase The Intensity


Another way to optimize workouts with your pooch is to ramp up the intensity. Interval training can help both you and your dog increase your endurance. It also burns more calories.

If you’ve been taking regular walks, try to make it more challenging by adding short sprints to your routine. You can set a timer and walk for a minute, then run for a minute. You can also try jogging past a certain number of driveways and then walk the same distance.

Going up hills or along trails can also help you burn more calories. You can also add lunges and squats to your routine. When your dog stops to sniff, instead of getting frustrated and pulling her along, try doing some burpees. 


Alternatives To Walking And Running With Fido


Labs, collies and other long-legged dogs usually enjoy walking and running. Some breeds aren’t made for this type of exercise, though. Dogs with pushed-in faces, like bulldogs and pugs, might not be able to handle too much exertion. Pooches with respiratory problems might need to avoid running.

There are other ways to lose weight by exercising with your dog. If your dog is great at playing fetch, you can do sit-ups or crunches while you hold a toy in one hand. At the peak of the sit-up, throw the toy. See how many more repetitions you can do before Fido returns the object.

You can do the same thing with squats. Alternatively, tap your dog with the toy every time you squat down. As you stand up, raise the toy above your head. Your dog will have fun jumping to grab it.


Prepare For The Weather


Photo by@bonniekdesign Licensed UnderCC0

Rain and snow can get in the way of a consistent walking schedule. Don’t let the elements get you down by preparing for wet and chilly weather. Get yourself and your dog a raincoat, if necessary. You might even want to look into shoes to cover your pet’s feet in the snow and ice.

If you can’t consistently walk your dog or have a smaller animal that doesn’t enjoy strolling, try some of the alternatives that we’ve described above. Thinking outside the box can help you keep up your weight-loss routine and have fun with your hound.


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