Exercise: Gone to the Dogs

If you’re looking for the latest in exercise motivation tools, take a look down by your feet. We may not realise it, but our dogs are the best workout buddies you can get.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that dog owners are far more likely to actually meet the national guidelines for exercise than those who don’t own a dog. At the University of Missouri, they even suggest that dogs are much better exercise companions than humans.

It seems they may be onto something.

Dogs make the best alarm clock.

Have you ever noticed how your dog seems to know exactly when dinner time is? Dogs pick up routines instantly. If you decide you’re going to go for a walk at 6.30am every morning, they will wake you up at 6.30am every morning without fail. (And there is no ‘snoozing’ a dog that wants to go for a walk!).

Keeping a regular sleep routine has plenty of other benefits as well. Irregular sleep patterns have been linked to poor physical health, including weight gain. Bad sleep habits also leads to impaired mental functioning, where you feel like your brain is foggy. So set up a daily routine, and get your dog on board to enforce it.

Dogs won’t take your excuses

A little rain is not an acceptable reason to bail. If anything, it only makes it more fun as far as they’re concerned. Not only are they off on an adventure with their favourite human, there are puddles to jump in as well!

Too tired? Tough! Every “no” only increases their enthusiasm. And don’t think they’ve given up when the bouncing around eventually stops. They’ll pull out their go-to move: gazing longingly at the leash hanging on the wall. And if that doesn’t do it, they’ll bring out the big guns: the impossible-to-ignore puppy dog eyes. There is no dog owner in the world who can resist that trick!

Not only are they never too tired to go on a walk, they also won’t let you take any shortcuts. It’s all-in at all times for a dog. They’ve got infinite supplies of energy so a half-walk just won’t do.

You know you’re doing the right thing by them as well

You may feel more motivated if you’re making the decision to exercise for their sake, rather than your own. After all, they need the exercise as much as you do. The fact that you’re making health-conscious decisions for your pet will inevitably cause you to start making more health-conscious decisions for yourself as well.

Spending time with your dog makes you live longer

Science has shown that dog owners are more likely to survive heart attacks than people who don’t own dogs. Interacting with your dog releases oxytocin in your brain, which reduces cortisol levels and leads to a more relaxed state.

You experience less stress, have lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.  These are all things that exercise does for your body as well, so you’re really doubling up on your good health when you take your dog for a walk.

Tonnes of endorphins are released.

Are we still not convinced? Endorphins are released when exercising, AND when interacting with your dog. So exercising with your dog must lead to an endorphin explosion! The result being that you’re in a great mood for the rest of the day.

You’re saving money

You save your pennies not only through the benefits to your physical health, but you also have no need for that gym membership you never use!

It’s also a great social activity

You meet other dog owners at the park and bond over your shared interest. And your fellow dog walkers always give you a little nod as they walk past, making you feel like part of the community.

Plus the guys setting up at the café down the street every morning will get to know you and your dog. They’ll miss you if you don’t walk past at your usual time, which is yet another reason to commit to a regular morning walk.

So what’s the best way to do this?

Your best approach is a 30 minute walk, with a pit stop at the park to play a few rounds of fetch with a tennis ball. You’ll burn up to 200 calories before your day has even begun. If you do this most mornings of the week, you are well and truly following the national guidelines to good health without even realising!

So what are the main benefits of exercising with your dog?

  • Consistency: they will get you up for a walk every morning.
  • Accountability: you can’t let them down (recall those puppy dog eyes guilt trips).
  • Energy levels: they have a seemingly infinite energy supply which will keep your pace up.
  • And all the usual health benefits of 30 minutes of exercise a day!

lovethatpet-logoAuthor Bio: Tamara Paulin is a self-proclaimed crazy dog lady and blogger on https://www.lovethatpet.com/. She has recently completed a Psychology degree with Honours, and loves nothing more than cuddles with her favourite, furry friends.

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