Tuesday, March 2, 2010
By Julia Williams
At the beginning of every new year, millions of people make resolutions pertaining to weight loss, exercise and fitness. They hit the gym with a gung-ho attitude, certain that this time they have the drive and determination to achieve their fitness goals. All too often, January’s resolve melts before the winter snow does, and they end up sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser contestants work out, instead of doing it themselves.
Sound familiar? Well, maybe you just need some new motivation – and who better to help you find your fitness mojo than your best canine buddy? By recruiting your dog as your new workout partner, you’ll not only rekindle your drive to get in shape, but you’ll help your four-legged companion get some much needed exercise too!
With the hectic, overscheduled lifestyle so many of us lead nowadays, it makes perfect sense to incorporate the family dog into your workout regime. Beyond taking them for their daily walk, there are countless things you can do to get fit with Fido. I’ve come up with several to get you started, but don’t be afraid to brainstorm to find other creative ways to exercise with your dog.
Power Walk Plus
Walking your dog is good exercise, but taking it up a notch or two will increase your heart rate and help you both burn more calories. Throughout your walk, mix in some higher-intensity intervals of power walking, jogging, running, leg kicks or high stepping.
Play Dog Tag
The timeless children’s game of tag is just as much fun with a dog, if not more. Take your dog out to your back yard or the local dog park, and let them try to chase you down as you run to get away from them. Dogs catch on to this simple game right away, and they have a blast trying to “tag” you.
Every dog loves to fetch, and this variation on that classic canine game lets you both get some exercise. Just take your dog’s favorite toy and toss it across the yard or dog park as you normally would when playing fetch, and then race him to see who can get to it first. If your dog is a slow runner and you can easily beat them to the toy, you might want to let them “win” at least part of the time, so that the game remains fun.
If you have a large backyard, you can set up a fitness obstacle course that both you and your dog can do together. Use your imagination to create a course that involves jumping over things like benches, low stools, small boxes and other objects, darting around objects like trees and picnic tables, and crawling through tunnels made out of large cardboard boxes.
The popular sport of dog agility is another way both you and your pet can get some exercise. Dog agility involves directing your pooch through an obstacle course in a timed race. As they run up ramps, snake through tunnels and race across balance beams, you’ll need to be guiding them every step of the way, which means that you both get lots of exercise in the process.
“My Best Friends Workout” DVD
This instructional DVD and manual are designed to help dog owners increase the intensity of their daily walk with their canine companion. A certified fitness instructor demonstrates nine unique exercises which incorporate strength training, cardiovascular exercise, anaerobic challenges and core exercises, essentially turning a 20-minute walk into a total body workout. Modifications are shown for nine different dog types, including Lap Dog, Marathoner and Old Timer, which makes it easy to provide the correct amount of activity for your particular dog. It sells for $24.95 and can be purchased online here.
“BOW WOW Bootcamp” Audio Program
This veterinarian-recommended exercise program was created by a top fitness trainer to provide a great workout that’s lots of fun for both dogs and owners. With 2 levels to choose from, each six-week BOW WOW Bootcamp audio CD includes a special mini-flip booklet demonstrating the exercises, as well as nutritional information and dietary guidelines (for the human, not the dog). You can order the CD here for $29.95 plus shipping, or download the MP3 file for $19.95.
Just as you should visit your own doctor before starting any fitness program, so too should your dog get a vet checkup, especially if they are overweight or not used to regular exercise. You can discuss any health issues that might affect your dog's ability to exercise with you, and your vet can help you determine which activities are appropriate for their current fitness level.
Now that you have some good ideas for how to get fit with your dog, isn’t it time to shut down the computer, call your four-legged friend and get moving?
Read more articles by Julia Williams