While your dog is an irreplaceable member of the family, they can also motivate you to get outside and live an active, healthy lifestyle. Studies show pet owners are healthier and happier than their petless counterparts.
Your furry friend depends on you for the exercise and stimulation they need. There’s plenty you can do to stay active together. Take a look at the following six ways your dog can help increase healthy habits in your life.
1. Take Regular Walks
What dog doesn’t like going for a walk? Next time you’re about to sit down in front of the TV and binge watch a season of CSI, consider taking your pup outside to release some of that pent up energy. Walks are especially beneficial for dogs who remain cooped up inside for most of the day.
While walks are a great way to release that ball of energy within your dog, they’re also the perfect way to burn more calories. Walking is a low-impact exercise that almost anyone can do. In fact, you can even get custom leashes of various kinds to meet any fitness or other needs you have with your dog. Start by taking a stroll to the end of the road, then see how you feel. You might feel motivated to keep going when you see your pooch’s frantic tail wagging.
2. Build Stamina
Not all dogs understand the concept of tired. Some will continue to play fetch until your arm’s burning from fatigue and you’re ready to call it a day.
Your dog will push you to be more active, simply because they want to increase their activity levels too. As a bonus, going outside has health benefits on your brain and can reduce stress and improve your mood.
3. Focus on the Arms
If your pup is new to the idea of walking on a leash, teaching proper leash etiquette can be the perfect opportunity for an arm workout. You’ll use your arms a lot to hold your dog in place and control his movements. Continue this training over a period of time to help tone your arms and build muscle.
To take full advantage of the workout, try not to lean backward to counterbalance against your pet. This prevents your arms from engaging and getting a full workout.
4. Get a Little Wet
Most dogs love to swim. If this is something you have in common with your pup, then it’s time to hit the water. Swimming is a fun activity that provides health benefits for both you and your dog. It’s also safe for those with joint pain.
If your dog is new to swimming, a few lessons in calm, waist-deep water can also be fun. Look to online resources to ease your dog into swimming comfortably.
5. Do Your Squats
Not only is cleaning up after your furry friend the polite thing to do, but it creates a great opportunity to work in some squats to keep your thighs toned. When your pup takes his morning poop, it’s your job to kneel deeply, scoop and stand back up.
For added health benefits, you can sneak in a few extra reps. There’s more than enough opportunity to squat and work on our glutes.
6. Practice Agility
Agility training might remind you of show dogs or football training, but it’s a great way to instill discipline in both you and your furry friend. Find an agility course near you and start running with your dog as he learns to jump, duck and weave.
You’ll simultaneously work up a sweat while feeling accomplished alongside your pup.
Time to Get Outside
Humans and dogs are the same in that we both need exercise to stay healthy and happy. As a dog owner, you have plenty of opportunities — and motivation — to get outside and stay active.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability.