Working Out with Man’s Best Friend

By Sarah – October 4, 2011

Dog lovers abound here in Austin, Texas – just take a look at Lady Bird Trail on any given day (or anywhere on any given day for that matter)!  Yes Fido is no stranger to this town, and, just like their human counterparts, dogs require regular exercise to stay healthy and reduce their risk of heart disease and other health problems. Research shows that those who exercise with their pet are more likely to stick to a fitness program, so here are several ways that you and your pooch can stay active together:

1) Walking: This form of exercise is ideal and beneficial to both you and your dog. Walking helps lower blood pressure, strengthen your heart and decreases the risk of depression. This also helps reduce behavioral problems in your pet, so a daily walk is just what the doctor ordered!

2) Jogging: Jogging is a great way to exercise with your dog, that is if you have the right breed for it (Labradors, for example, do quite well with jogging long distances). Keep in mind that it is still necessary to warm up and cool down and to build up to your distance (about 30 minutes).

3) Swimming: Swimming is a great low impact workout, especially if you or your dog is older. Again, not every breed enjoys a nice dip in the water, so start slow and see if it’s something your pet enjoys. Swimming strengthens the heart and lungs and works a multitude of muscle groups, so go cool off with your canine before it cools down here in Austin!

4) Hiking: Most dogs love this activity, so if you live near a hiking trail it’s a great way to exercise with your pet. To get a real workout in, you’ll have to walk quick enough to elevate your heart rate, much like walking – watch out for ticks though!

5) Cycling: Cycling with your dog may be tricky, but it can be done. You will have to train your dog not to pull so you can maintain your balance (a Springer for the leash may be a wise investment in this case). Be careful to keep a close eye on your dog during this activity considering you won’t tire as quickly on a bicycle.

Safety is, of course, the priority when exercising with “your best friend”. Living in Austin it should be no surprise to you that heat exhaustion is a serious threat to dogs when working out. Because dogs don’t sweat it is especially important that they stay hydrated and don’t overexert themselves. Short-faced breeds, such as bulldogs and boxers, are even more vulnerable because the don’t pant as efficiently. Another thing to keep in mind is paw protection. Extremely rough, hot or icy surfaces can damage your dog’s paws, so take care when choosing where you exercise and consider investing in dog booties if necessary. Also, if your dog isn’t used to walking/running long distances be sure to build up to it so your pet has time to develop thicker pads on its feet.

What’s your pet’s favorite exercise? Do you do anything different? Let us know @austinfit or on our facebook page.

Also, now is a great time to start preparing your pet for our Fittest Dog issue (see last year’s issue here)!


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