Fitness with Fido: Five Ways to Make Workouts Fun
May 31, 2011 08:07AM
● By Joshua Fleming
Dogs are great at showing unconditional love, being a good listener and offering open paws when a hug is needed; they also make superb workout partners. Here are five ways to bond and get healthy with your favorite four-legged friend.
An obvious way to exercise with a canine pal is to take walks together. Vets generally recommend that dogs go for at least one walk every day, and tagging along is a good way to get the 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise that doctors encourage for us. Also, the regularity of a daily walk helps strengthen the relationship between a dog and owner, while developing the animal’s trust and obedience.
Many dogs love chasing tennis balls, tree limbs or other thrown objects. To get the most out of a workout, after throwing the object to be fetched, take off after it with your dog. Although the four-legged competitor may win most of the time, running back and forth and friendly competition benefits all.
It may be difficult to find a salt pool (avoid chlorine) where pooches are welcome, but shallow lakeshores, local streams and other natural bodies of water can provide enjoyable destinations to take a supervised dip. Swimming builds strength and stamina and is gentle on the joints; it works the body in ways that no other exercise does.
Dancing is another way to get a groove on and burn calories at the same time. Turn on some tunes and start moving, encouraging your dog to move with you, perhaps even standing on his or her back paws if it feels right. The laughter that results is a whole other form of exercise.
Years ago, bicycling with man’s best friend was dangerous. Fortunately, today we have contraptions that attach a dog safely to a bicycle for a ride and prevent falls when Fido lunges after a squirrel. Bicycling with a dog running alongside is an effective workout for both of you.
Exercising with canine pals can be rewarding in many ways, but workouts must be safe, as well as effective. Unless exercising at home or in a fenced yard, dogs should remain on a leash at all times and wear identification tags. Understanding the limits and abilities of a dog’s breed is also important, so that workouts can be appropriately tailored. Now, grab Fido and get moving!
Joshua Fleming, a personal trainer and sports nutritionist based in Daphne, AL, is the founder of Victory Fitness, a nationwide virtual personal training initiative. Learn more at VictoryFit.com.