We all have our goals in 2020, and a common one for us all is to increase our fitness. Here’s how you and your dog can both achieve your fitness goals – and stay happy and healthy too!
Most dogs enjoy walking at about a 15 to 17-minute per mile pace. That’s a brisk walk and a speed that will help you keep fit. Take advantage of your dog’s natural speedometer and encourage them to move along at a comfortable speed with you. Hint: if your dog is pausing frequently, you’re probably going too slowly. Try to avoid your dog stopping to smell the flowers every few steps. If your pet struggles to pick up the pace, it may need a little additional lead-walking training.
Equal Energy Burn
One of the reasons that dogs and humans are a perfect pair when it comes to exercise is the fact that we burn a similar amount of energy per pound when walking or running. Dogs expend about 0.8 calories per pound per mile when moving at a brisk walk of 3.7 to 4.0 miles per hour (15 to 16 minutes per mile pace). Humans shed almost the same, about 0.73 calories per pound per mile, at a similar speed. This means a 150-pound person loses about 100 calories during a 1-mile walk while their 40-pound dog burns about 32 calories. Both you and your dog need to use 3500 calories to lose one pound of weight and work towards a 60-percent diet and only 40-percent exercise regime.
If you do exercise with your dog, make sure you keep an eye on the following, so they stay healthy:
• In hot weather make sure to walk your dogs in grassy areas to avoid burning their paws.
• In cold weather consider winter boots to stop contact with abrasive ice and de-icing chemicals.
• When you get home from a walk make sure to wipe their paws in case of anything getting attached and for general cleanliness.
• After each walk or run make sure to check for cuts on their paws. If you do find a cut use a mild anti-bacterial soap to disinfect the wound and apply pressure using a clean towel to stop bleeding.
Remember your dog isn’t a machine and can’t go from doing minimal exercise to running 10k! Make sure you build up the distance you run and walk with them gradually. It’s also a good idea to keep puppies from exercising too strenuously or for too long to avoid damaging their developing bones and joints. In addition, dogs who are older, may have arthritis or are recovering from an injury or illness will need to take it a little easier or exercise for shorter periods of time.
Exercising with pets benefits us in more than just our fitness:
• Helps us be calmer, more mindful, and more present in our lives.
• Makes children more active and confident.
• Enriches the lives of elderly people.
• Can make us feel more social and less isolated.
For more information on how your pets can help with keeping healthy check out this blog post on ‘How Owning A Pet Can Benefit Your Health’
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