–Guest Blog by Tricia Montgomery, AAPP’s National Business Development Director
In celebration of Canine Fitness Month, the American Association of Pet Parents would like to encourage you to move more with your dog–no matter what their breed!
A reliable workout buddy is hard to find, but if you’re a pet parent, chances are, you’ve already got one waiting by your front door. Exercise is good for both pets and their humans: lowering your risk of obesity and heart disease, while boasting your mood and helping you get your blood flowing.
Let’s start with the bad news first: most of us know that the statistics on obesity in humans are alarming. In the US, over 42% of adults are obese or overweight. But did you know that our pets too, are carrying extra pounds? In 2018, over half–or an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States–were overweight or obese according to a survey by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention. Now listen: we aren’t here to fat shame anyone–and we are learning more and more that weight and health are not always correlated. However, moving–especially with your dog–has all kinds of proven physical and psychological health benefits that have been measured in study after study after study. So finding fun ways to move and play with your dog really are the keys to longevity and happiness.
Now for the really good news: because they are great motivators to go out and enjoy life, dogs are our best 24/7 health advocates. Their playful demeanor and desire to explore the world, means that they constantly encourage us to get out and enjoy life to the fullest. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, dogs in particular help us:
- Deal with stress
- Get more exercise and meet our fitness goals
- Fell less lonely and isolated
- Lose weight
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Recover after a health event
So it is no wonder that people with dogs move more–and I have some really fun ways to spice up your routine.
Here are four simple exercises you can include in your daily walks to ensure you and your dog are living longer, happier, and healthier lives together. And the best part? They can be done inside OR outside, depending on the weather.
NOTE: Remember to start slowly and make sure to do these exercises at an intensity that is right for you. I recommend keeping your dog on your left side, on a two-foot leash held in your left hand. Throughout, always praise your dog for good actions.
Woof Woof Warm-Up:
With your dog following, power walk back and forth for 1-2 minutes, and then jog or sprint for another 2 minutes. Walk with your knees coming up toward your chest, 10 times on each side. Do butt kicks, 10 on each side, while your dog stays at your side. To do butt kicks: Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, bend your right knee and raise your right heel behind you, toward your butt, then back down, and repeat with your left leg.
Spot’s Side Shuffles:
Do side shuffles across a room, first to the right and then the left, with your dog walking or running in front you. Start off slow. Find your own rhythm and balance, and let your dog get used to following you, and then gradually pick up speed. To increase the intensity, bend your knees and try doing the motion in a squatting position.
Stand with your right side by a platform (height appropriate for your fitness level), dog on your left. Step up with your right foot, encouraging your dog to put its front paws onto the step. Bring your left foot onto the step and put your weight on both feet, having your dog follow. Step down with your left foot, bring your right foot back onto the floor, and have your dog follow. Repeat 10 times, then do the same on the other side.
Start with your back down on the ground and your dog sitting and staying on your left side. Inch your feet in until your knees are bent. Place your hands on the back of your head or behind your ears. Engage your abdominals as you lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Hold the crunch and while keeping your lower spine and hips flat, reach one arm across to touch your pup’s head. Return your hand behind your head as you use your abs to slowly lower your shoulders back to the ground. Briefly rest before you perform another crunch and reach to pat the other side. To make things more interesting, lead your dog to the opposite side with the leash as you crunch. Praise your every canine crunch!
Our best friend’s are our best muttivation. So, remember, working out is not so ruff! Grab your pup, get up, get out, and get moving. Your dog will thank you!
Find more training tips here.