Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Exercising With Your Best Friend… Your Dog!

Is anyone ever in as good a shape as they could be? Whether you’re human or canine, it’s likely there are things you could do to look and feel better. And here’s the thing: if you look and feel better, you’re likely to be healthier, as well. Being overweight can lead to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, even cancer. Being fit through exercise can lead to a longer life and better sleep at night.

One caution: if you or your pet haven’t indulged in cardio-oriented activity before, you’ll want to check in with your vet. Young dogs whose bones haven’t finished growing will want to go easy on the hard exercise and certain breeds are more built for speed and exercise than others. Your vet will know if the course you’re charting is the right one.

Once you get the vet’s thumbs-up, there are lots of great activities you can share with your pooch. Dog Time shares a few of the top ones:

1. Take a hike: Well, a hike is a great idea, but if you are unused to strenuous exercise, start with a walk, and build from there. Many of us are pressed for time. So, if you are running late in the mornings, try to get up just a bit early if possible. You can take a 10 minute walk with your dog. If your schedule allows it, try to get in three walks a day, and make one at least 20 minutes.

2. Cut back on the treats: Instead of rewarding your dog with treats, give him attention. Dogs love interacting. If you want to give your dog a treat, break it in half and put the other half away for another day. Same goes with treats for you -- eat half today and the other half tomorrow so you won’t feel deprived.

3. Visit the dog park: If possible, walk to the dog park. When you get there, toss a ball around with your dog. Both of you will get some exercise.

4. Go for a swim: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that you and your dog can do.

5. Jog or run: Find a track that welcomes dogs and make sure your have comfortable running shoes. That is all you need for this cardio workout. Bring a water bottle and foldable bowl so you and your dog can rehydrate.

6. Tug-of-war: Play a game of tug-of-war with your dog. It can help build your upper body strength and your dog will enjoy spending time playing with you.

7. Play catch: Whether it’s a ball, a Frisbee, or his favorite toy, go outside and play a game of catch.

8. On rainy days hit the stairs: If you have stairs in your apartment building or in your home, go up and down a few flights (remember to start slow). If you have a treadmill in your home, you and your dog can use that too.

9. Sign up for an exercise class: You and your dog can take agility classes or even “doga,” a form of yoga designed for the both of you.

10. Resistance walk: This is great for all kinds of weather. Try to walk your dog in the snow, on the sand, in shallow water on the beach, or on a leaf-filled trail.

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