Some fitness partners flake out, miss workouts, or make excuses. But here’s a partner that won’t: your dog. More than 52 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s 2012 National Pet Obesity Survey. Compare that to the stats for their owners: About one-third of Americans are obese, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Your dog is a perfect workout partner because they will ALWAYS want to be with you and it is tough to say NO to a pup’s wagging tail of excitement when you pull out their leash. Well, canine owners are more likely to exercise regularly and to be fitter and healthier than their pooch-free peers. New research reports that people with canine companions are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week.
If you think about it, dog owners will often log in double workouts–they don’t see taking the dog out as a sweat session, so they still go to the gym and lift. But don’t discount those walks. If you keep a moderate pace, you can burn up to 68 calories in 20 minutes. If you walk your dog for 20 minutes five days a week for a year you can lose an average of 14 pounds. Throw in some high-energy games of chase, tug-of-war, and Frisbee, and you’ll help your metabolism even more.
You will never find anyone who loves to exercise more than a dog, and that enthusiasm can be contagious. A dog is always ready and willing to go. Plus, unlike a neighbor or your most dependable friend, an always eager pup never cancels on you at the last minute, complains about being tired, or backs down from rain.
Have a race goal? You’ve just found your coach. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they’ll help you stick to a training plan.
Once your pup gets into the routine of a morning run, you won’t need an alarm clock–the wet nose in your face will work. And his steady tempo can also make you a great running partner.
Don’t have a dog? You can still get in some canine workouts: Volunteer to run or walk a pound puppy (find a shelter at aspca.org). Organizations always need good volunteers and those pups need to burn off that energy too and because the animals are able to release some of their pent-up energy, they show better to prospective adopters and are taken into good homes faster. Talk about exercise rewards.
Working out with your dog doesn’t just benefit your health, though. It can be a real treat for your pet–and for you. A dog is the best motivator you’ll ever have. All they want to do is spend time with you and please you. They look forward to it. And although they won’t judge you for skipping workouts, it’s tough to say no when you have to face a wagging tail.
Thank you so much for reading!