Changing your body and getting healthy requires small but strategic change and doing that consistently. Cooking more than eating out, drinking more water, planning your week, getting a coach to guide you and simply adding more walks to your day are all ways we can change our lifestyle reasonably, without two-a-days in the gym or slashing calories over and over.
Extreme lifestyle overhauls rarely create lasting sustainable change, and the truth is, walking is one of the most underutilized forms of exercise out there.
The good news is you don’t have to go it alone, and there is no better workout buddy than your pup! He or she will keep you accountable and help you come to expect those walks daily, if not several times a day.
Walking may be the simplest form of exercise you can do, and most of the time you’re already doing it. It’s free and can be done anywhere with no equipment. You’re walking from the car to the office, up and down the stairs in your home, you walk around the grocery store multiple times. Remember, exercise at its most basic level is a form of movement, and you’re already checking that box.
So how do we up the game and make it work for our health and dog? Walking has a ton of benefits. Time spent walking can improve muscle strength and flexibility, bone density, sleep quality and can also help maintain a healthy weight, stress level as well as improve mental health. Studies have also shown walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, still one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Walking between 10,000 to 12,000 steps can reduce blood pressure as well, so set that fitness tracker and see how close you can get most days!
At Wellthy Soul, we recommend starting with a three-mile walk, six times a week. If that sounds daunting, simply split it up into two, one and a half mile walks, aiming for one in the morning and one in the evening. Make sure to tailor your walks to your walking buddy’s capabilities — a two-year-old Doodle will be able to go further than a seven-year-old dachshund.
Walking your dog every day has benefits for them too, including serious bonding time. It’ll be easier for them to maintain a healthy weight and good joints and bones but will also improve behavior, provide brain-boosting qualities, and enhance the senses and socialization.
Once you establish a routine, over time you can begin to level up your walking game. Start slow and leisurely and tune in to see if any aches and pains or old injuries creep in. Spend a few minutes stretching out the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves (pay special attention to your lower back if that bothers you). When you feel ready, add in quicker intervals for one to two minutes at a time, if your dog will allow.
Explore your neighborhood and tackle hills on another day. Monitor your one-mile pace and watch over time how it quickens. Ideally, when walking becomes a consistent form of exercise, you should feel warm with the ability to hold a conversation in just a few words without feeling breathless or at your maximum effort. It should feel like work but comfortable.
After just a few days of talking everyone into a walk, and maybe even bribing with treats here and there, your dog will quickly learn to seek you out and expect you to leash them up for some miles!
Is there any better accountability partner?
About the Author
Emma Aguirre’s training career began with spinning almost 20 years ago in a small women-only gym in South Texas. After a career in journalism, Emma switched to fitness full time, certifying in Practical Pilates, TRX and Jillian Micheals BodyShred program. She is also qualified as an AFAA Group Fitness professional and holds several personal trainer certificates, as well as Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 certification. She is currently certifying as an International Sports Sciences Association master trainer and spends her days coaching clients online as a Personal Health Advisor at Austin’s Wellthy Soul.