For those of us who have the pleasure of
owning a pet, the benefits are fairly obvious. Pets offer unconditional love,
listen to us without offering needless advice, and make fantastic snuggling
companions. There is nothing like coming home to someone who is genuinely
excited to see you and who wants nothing more than a chew toy for Christmas.
But for all of the love we give them, we also seem to give them a lot to eat.
Approximately 50 percent of the pets in this country are overweight - and with
roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population also being overweight, we could all
use a little more exercise! One possibility overlooked by pet owners is to
recruit your pet as a workout buddy, which is odd, since pets will always show
up and won't complain about how hungover they are. Let's look at some ways you
can involve your furry friend in sweat-inducing activities that will leave you
both reaching for the water bowl.
us are aware of the vast benefits of spending time outside on a daily basis. If
you have a dog yet lack a large yard, being outside becomes a requirement. So
if you have to walk your dog several times a day, why not use the time to your
benefit as well? Try to speed up your pace along your normal route. Try
alternating your quick pace with some speed walking or a light jog. Find a
route that includes some hills or other challenging terrain. Add some high knee
lifts, butt kicks, or lateral skipping if you are not embarrassed by public
displays of exercise. Or simply try adding 5 minutes onto your quick-paced walk
every week, until you are up to an hour. The added calorie burn will be worth
are a bit more daring, try hiking or running with your dog. There is the
obvious increase in caloric expenditure for both of you, but also an increase
in cardiovascular and muscular output that will definitely pay off. Look for
soft surfacesâlike a trail or dirt trackâto help protect your
joints, and remember that hot pavement is really painful for dogs' paws. Also,
there are special harness-type leashes out there that keep your hands free and
make running with more than one dog much more bearable.
It's all fun and games.
with your pet can be great exercise and fun for both of you. If you have a
yard, or live near a local dog park, all of this is much easier. Of course, it
can be done in your living room, but it might be a bit dangerous for the
furniture. Try playing fetch, but race your dog for the ball. Just throw and
start running. Or play tag by chasing your dog around the designated area. If
your dog is on the strong side, grab a rope and try some tug-of-war. If you're
considerably stronger than your pooch, try tugging while standing on one leg,
and using only one arm. Create an obstacle course, and run it with your dog.
Find a ball and a wall, and play a version of handball mixed with "keep
away"âfrom your dog. Practice your tennis swing and let your pup retrieve
doing something playful can make a normal workout feel like you are back on the
playground with your four-legged best friend. How can it get better than
Train the dog, or train the
not a section on teaching a dog to sit or training your spouse to get you a
drink from the fridge. This is about using functional resistance training to
manipulate your mutt's musculature, along with your own. Try the following
exercises with some help from Fido.
Balance Challenge Stand on both feet, hips-width apart, with your dog's
favorite toy in hand, but hidden from view. Shift your weight onto one foot,
keeping the other foot's toes just off the ground. Now show your pet a favorite
toy. Try bending your standing leg and lowering the toy to touch the ground in
front of you. Once you lose your balance, or your pup gets the toy, switch to
the opposite leg.
Squat and Toy Press For this exercise, use your dog's favorite toy or a small
weighted medicine ball. Start with your feet hips-width apart, and in a
parallel position. Bring the toy or ball to your chest. Squat down deeply with
your butt going parallel to the floor, and your knees staying behind your toes.
As you extend your knees to stand back up, throw the toy or ball into the air,
and try to catch it before your mutt jumps up and grabs it! Repeat until one of
you gives out.
Sumo Squats for the Critter This workout is similar to the Squat and Toy Press. Only
this time, you start with your toes pointed slightly outward, making sure that
your knees line up with your toes. Hold the toy or ball in both hands, with
arms extended straight down toward the floor. As you bend both knees, bringing
your seat parallel to the floor and keeping your arms straight, lift the toy
directly over your head. As you straighten your knees, jump off the ground a
few inches and return the toy to the down position. Hopefully, your mongrel
will continue to jump for the toy until your quads have hit exhaustion.
Fetching Push-Ups The idea is to set yourself up in a push-up position, with
whatever modifications you require to do many repetitions (on your knees,
against a wall, etc.). Lift one hand and throw a ball. Do as many push-up
repetitions as possible until your pet returns. Repeat the toss with the
Laser Creature Crunch Domesticated animals seem to be fascinated by laser
pointers. Get into a comfortable crunch position on the ground, and hold the
laser pointer in both hands. Begin doing 10 crunches with the laser on your
chest, and of course, pointed away from you. Watch your pet go nuts trying to
chase it in the process. Every 10 reps, alternate arm positions behind your
head, above your head, and even to your knees. Your dog will go insane, and you
will have abs of steel!
Dog Curl/Dip/Press These
options depend completely on the level of stillness your pet can provide. For
my two dogs, playing dumbbell just ain't gonna happen. But I have many friends
with extremely trusting animals that love to be bench-pressed. Should you try
to press, curl, dip, or lunge your best friends, do it relatively close to the
ground, just in case they change their minds.
There's a study that shows people with
terminal illnesses are three times less likely to suffer depression if they own
a pet. Pets are amazing stress reducers and loneliness decreasers, and have
actually been proven to lower blood pressure. They also make us more social
creatures, as we meet new people on walks, at parks, etc. If you add a pet to
your household, your life will be dramatically enriched. If you are unable to
make a lifelong commitment, borrow a friend's dog for a day, or look into a
short-term fostering program. And there are hundreds of organizations out there
that could use volunteers to walk the dogs they are sheltering. That way, you
get some exercise, and make a difference at the same time. Whatever you do,
integrate some canine or feline time into your exercise regimen, and watch the
change occur. Now that is doggone good!
Working Out with Debbie
Siebers and Barney
Slim in 6® trainer Debbie
Siebers knows the secrets to fitting fitness into a busy schedule. When she's
out walking with Barney, her pet Maltese, she can get in a pretty decent
workout. Go for a walk with Debbie and Barney, and check out her tips for pet
owners. Click below to watch the video.
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