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Surprising Ways Your Dog Can Make Your Workout Better

Humankind’s best friend has been around for millennia. The human-dog relationship is one of nature’s warmest gifts.

The human-canine relationship has evidence that dates back to almost 33,000 years! When I got my Charter Spectrum Customer Support, I thought I had enough outlets for my spare time. But when my sister gave me my first dog, I discovered I was wrong. I found out just how much a canine friend can affect the life of an individual.

Dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend, there is no doubt about that. Scientists believe both species evolved over the years to live with each other. Today dogs are seen in multiple roles in life. There are seeing-eye dogs that help blind individuals navigate through everyday obstacles. There are therapy dogs that help people suffering from PTSD and depression. There are police dogs, ensuring criminals stay on the right side of the law. There are bomb-squad canines, who risk their lives to find explosive devices that could hurt people. And of course, there are pet dogs, who make our lives fuller and happier.

A surprising workout partner

It would be very difficult to love our dogs any more than we already do. We love spending our spare time with them and enjoying their company. But few people understand how much dogs can help with other tasks. Specifically, with workouts. Dogs make your workouts better by:

Read on to find out how dogs help in very specific ways with your workout.

Providing motivation

The biggest obstacle faced by people trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle is motivation. More precisely, the lack of motivation. This is where dogs can act as a strong motivating factor. As humans, we already consider our pet dogs to be furry little family members. Part of being a responsible pet owner is making sure your pet is healthy and fit. For dogs particularly, this means ensuring they are getting enough exercise during the day. An interesting new form of exercise is “parallel weight-loss” programs involving humans and dogs. You already have a connection with your dog, and exercising your canine companion can strengthen it. At the same time, since smaller dogs tend to burn weight quickly, their results motivate you as well. In this way, your dog helps you stay fit while you make sure it is getting the required amount of exercise.

Adding joy to your workout

Other than our parents, the only unconditional love we get is from our dogs. On the other hand, exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins or feel-good hormones. This is why you feel such a rush after working out. Combining the love between you and your pet with the “high” of working out is a powerful mixture. Including your dog in your workout sessions can help take this feel-good sensation to another level. Many dog classes combine obedience training with circuit routines. This helps build on your animal-human bond while also giving you the burn you need to work off those calories.

Companions for light and heavy cardio

One of the simplest, easiest and most effective workouts you can do with your dog is just walking. Science associates a number of health benefits with taking brisk walks, five days a week. Usually, a walk should last up to 30 minutes. Brisk walks really help burn the visceral fat stored on your belly. Having your dog along with you not only makes it enjoyable but also makes for positive, fat-burning exercise.

On the other hand, science tells us that humans require more than just light cardio. In fact, it is recommended to do strength-building activities at least twice a week. This is where special canine cardio classes can really help. What these classes do is combine cardio with weight-based workouts, which really get your heart pumping. Doing these with your canine friend is fun, healthy and a great way to burn off excessive calories.

Requiring agility

Agility courses usually conjure up images of highly trained show dogs running through tunnels and jumping through hoops. The thought of your silly little canine doing this makes no sense initially, if not a little funny. But maybe you are underestimating your furry friend’s capabilities. You can build your own, slower-paced agility course in your backyard. This is not only going to be giving your dog a workout but you as well. To get your dog agile, you need agility yourself. You need to be with your dog at each step of the course. 

Whether it is jumping through tires or hoops, over boxes or hurdles, or weaving through poles you need to be there. By the end of a solid agility course, you will find yourself breathing hard and working up a sweat. Building a backyard agility course only needs simple materials like boxes, pipes, old tires, and sticks. But the benefits to you and your dog are well worth the effort.

A properly trained canine friend is both a responsibility and a source of joy. My dog is 7 years old and can do just about everything except place a call to Cox Cable Customer Service. Even if you put aside the obvious physical benefits to working out with your dog, the mental effect remains. Dogs are, and forever will be, the best friend humankind has ever known.

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Have you ever found yourself unable to move off your couch because your gorgeous, much-loved pet has curled up next to you or has settled themselves so firmly on your lap that you're loathe to disturb them? Are there times when your pet is languishing across your keyboard and you're praying that they don't press 'send' on a half-finished email, yet you're loving the fact that they're supervising your work!

- Being close to your pet helps keep you calmer, even if you do have a wry smile on your face due to their antics. When you've 'no choice' you can gradually allow yourself to relax in their company. It's a wonderful feeling to be so trusted by a creature that feels secure and is totally at ease with you. And after a busy day filled with a miscellany of sometimes stressful experiences dedicating attention to your pet can be a great way to manage stress.

- Pets have no agenda. When you walk through the door you may be greeted by exuberant paws, be expected to take them for a walk, replenish their food bowl and be completely there for them. Those moments of enforced pet-time can be a delicious opportunity to recharge your batteries and overcome the urgent mental prompts about what you should/ought/must be doing next. What's more precious than spending time going for a walk or settling down with a gently dozing creature who's totally at peace and curled up next to you?

- Sometimes we have to park our to do list for now and give in to those moments, accepting them as a good reason to stop running from one job to the next. Ignoring your pet is futile, so attending to them might as well become your main priority.

- Why not turn those moments into something even more special by allowing yourself to really celebrate the connection you have with your beautiful companion. When they are relaxing peacefully on your lap you may not even be able to reach your phone or the TV remote control. There's no real option but to simply sit it out.

- So, turn your attention away from external distractions. Stroke their coat and enjoy its feel and texture. Is it soft and silky or has it a more coarse feel to it? Tune in to their smell, their breathing, the little sounds they perhaps make. Smile at any tremors or movements - are they chasing or playing in their dreams?

- As your internal chatter calms and settles, become more mindful and tuned in to your own breathing, each breath becoming a calmer, more relaxed experience. Notice your body; is there any tension in your shoulders, chest, stomach, back? Allow it to subside.

You know that you're not going to be moving for a while so commit to enjoying those few meaningful moments and value the special gift that your beautiful pet is giving you. Appreciate some time out as quality time for yourself, a very precious present and way to manage stress.

About Author -

Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support. She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit 

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