Our screen driven days often result in a more sedentary lifestyle. This isn’t good for anyone. If you and your dog have been on the couch too much lately, beginning a new exercise program might seem overwhelming. However, you don’t need to invest a lot of money on gym memberships or fancy equipment to start getting in shape. All you really need is a good quality set of comfortable shoes or sneakers. Let’s take a look at why walking is a great way for both you and your dog to get started exercising and maintain fitness, how to stay motivated to keep walking and some important safety considerations.
Health Benefits Walking Provides Your Dog
Obesity is just as bad for dogs as it is for people. Regular walks will keep your dog healthy, agile and in the best of shape. Additionally, regular walks can greatly reduce destructive behaviors such as chewing and hyperactivity. For active breeds, daily activity is essential. Walking your dog is also a great way to help socialize him and gets you out of the house too.
Health Benefits Of Walking for You
Walking is a simple workout almost anyone can do. It’s low impact and you need any special training to do it. It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. You can make it as easy or as challenging as you want it to be.
If you’re just starting out and are not in very good shape, just take a 10 minute walk on your street first thing in the morning or each night after dinner. After a few weeks you’ll be feeling up to longer walks, maybe even picking up the pace, or tackling a small hill.
Many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. It can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons such as bad weather and busy schedules. Additionally, people who have chronic conditions may have to spend a lot time resting. Walking gets you moving and it’s a great way to get in some cardio and get the blood moving without a lot of stress on your body. At the same time, you’ll start to notice that your leg muscles will start to tone up and your core strengthens. And after a few weeks of walking, your pants will start getting looser (provided you’ve cut back on calories!)
Finding and Keeping the Motivation to Stay Walking
While walking is easy to do, it can also get a bit boring without a little help. If you’re struggling to stay motivated to go on that daily walk, here’s a few helpful tips.
1. Find a walking buddy. It’s much harder to skip that walk if you know someone is waiting for you and relying on you to go with them. Having someone to talk to on your walks also keeps things interesting and helps the time to pass. And take your dog along! It’s a great time of bonding for both of you.
2. Grab your phone or mp3 player and some headphones. Listen to your favorite music while you walk, download some podcasts or lose yourself in an audiobook. Having something to listen to will make the time go by faster and keep your walks interesting and fun.
3. Schedule your walks and make them part of your daily routine. It will take a little while before it becomes a habit, but before you know it you wonít forget to go for your walk, just like you wonít forget to brush your teeth.
4. Walking can be a great time to decompress after a busy day. Use this time to reflect on the day and clear your mind.
5. Try a different route or drive to a local park.
Start Keeping Track
In the beginning your main goal will be to just go out there consistently and move. And that’s a great way to start out. But eventually you’ll get to a point where that quick 15 minute evening stroll is no longer enough to get you the results you want. This is when it’s time to push yourself a little harder and make sure you keep getting stronger instead of stagnating.
Start keeping track of how long and how far you walk. Set a goal each week, to either walk a bit further, or cover the same distance in a shorter amount of time. Set a goal and then give yourself a week (or longer if needed) to get used to the new distance or speed. Once it starts to feel comfortable, you know it’s time to raise the bar. Keep pushing yourself and you’ll continue to get in very effective, low impact workouts by doing nothing more than walking.
Walking Safety Tips
*Always carry a phone and identification.
*If you’re walking your dog, don’t use your headset unless you’re in a quiet area. You want to be alert to any potential dangers.
*Be sure you and your dog are hydrated before you leave for your walk. If you’re driving somewhere, take some water in a cooler with you.
*If you live in a hot climate, avoid walking in the middle of the day. It’s potentially dangerous for both of you.
*Be knowledgeable about local predators (here in Florida we have to consider coyotes, snakes, alligators, bobcats and crazy drivers.)
*Don’t use a retractable leash on the street. It’s really easy to lose your grip or even for the lead to snap, leading to potentially disastrous consequences.
*For further reading on dog walking safety see the following articles: