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Wanna Work Out with Your Best Friend?

By Colleen Williams
May 20, 2016 • 3 min. read

The best part about exercising with your dog? He or she is always ready to go. When you need a little motivation, you have a very excited partner in crime who won’t bail on those early morning sessions! If you’re serious about training for that half marathon, getting outside with Spot is the best way to see results. Bonus? It’s great for your dog’s mental and physical health too.

Take It Easy: Walking

In 2011, Michigan State released the news that dog walkers were more likely to reach exercise benchmarks, stating that people who walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet those all-too-familiar targets for physical activity. Epidemiologist Mathew Reeves continued about the study: “promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans—of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity—become healthier.”

Step It Up: Running, Hiking, Biking, Skateboarding, Skating

We’ve all seen that neighbor running with his Pitbull, making excellent time as his dog happily keeps up the pace. How do people get to that point? A lot of hard work, actually. And not just on your end—your dog needs to be trained how to run alongside you. From running, you can tackle any of the transportation modes with your dog—biking, skateboarding, and even roller skating. Since hiking is not as high impact, you can easily take your dog as soon as he or she is old enough, and as long as there isn’t a mad bolt after wildlife.

Jump In: Swimming, Paddle Boarding, Surfing

Most dogs are natural swimmers but some are not; luckily, lots of canine fitness centers popping up will teach your dog how to swim. What if you want to swim together? Might want to hit a dog-friendly beach and tackle the waves, and don’t forget to bring the paddle board—another great workout for both you and your pup (and while those videos of the Surf Dog Surfathon in Huntington look awesome, maybe leave it for the pros).

Trending: Doga, Canine Freestyle, Ultimate Frisbee

Yoga lovers, rejoice! You can now participate in doga, the practice of yoga with your puppy. “What makes doga unique is the practice and benefits that create a harmony and synchronization of energy flow between the owner and dog,” says teacher Madhavi Bhatia in an article on The Bark. And if that isn’t enough movement for you, you can try canine freestyle: the art of movement, agility, and dance with your dog. Yep, it is basically dancing with your dog. And if that doesn’t grab you, Ultimate Frisbee always has a place for you and your pooch, and can be as inexpensive as the cost of the Frisbee. If you want to do a dog workout at home, there are complete plans like this one from Shape to incorporate human’s best friend—including sit-ups, pushups and more.

The basic rules of safety should be mentioned, however. We cannot tell when we’re pushing our pets too far, so watch for the signs of exhaustion, overheating, and dehydration, including excessive panting, lying down, or strange behavior. Just like you, your pet needs to gradually build endurance and stamina. Also bring extra water, get outside when it’s not too hot, and don’t challenge a short-legged (or Brachycephalic) breed with major training runs. If you are teaching your dog to swim, keep in mind different breeds have different strengths, so swimming might be difficult.

Some books for fitness with your dog:

Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound: How You & Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun (New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond)

See Spot Run: 100 Ways to Work Out with Your Dog

Fitness Unleashed! A Dog and Owner’s Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together

Champion Disc Dog!: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Dog Airborne in 18 Days

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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