How To Get Fit With Your Pet!

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Research shows that people with pets, and dogs in particular, are generally healthier, happier and fitter than those without a pet(1). The reason for this is simple – if you have a pet dog, you’re probably taking them for regular walks.

Taking your dog out for a walk is a fantastic way to keep them happy; however, you don’t need to limit your outdoor activities to a simple walk in the park.

Here’s Jayne McPherson from evolution to wellbeing introducing her new work-out guide in association with Petbarn to keep your pooch pal entertained while keeping you both fit and active.

Raise your heart rate with your pooch:

Interval training is the perfect activity for dogs as they have short bouts of energy.

What to do:

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Throw the ball up a hill (or across flat ground) and sprint/jog/power walk in same direction as the ball with your furry friend – even challenge yourself and race your dog to get the ball!

After each sprint, switch up the activity in order to create an active rest. Give your legs a break by working on your core.

Jayne says that bodyweight exercises are a simple and effective way to improve fitness, strength and flexibility. Use a bench or the ground to do any of the below exercises in between each sprint or throw of the ball. Your pet can also join in by being part of your sit ups or even step ups. (If appropriate, hold your pet for some extra resistance.)

16 x step ups (8 on each leg)
16 x push ups
16 x squat jumps (or squats if you can’t do jumps)
16 x tricep dips
16 x sit-ups or crunches

After you have completed the above exercises, take a rest by playing fetch with your dog until you catch your breath. If your pooch looks parched make sure to give them plenty of water and adequate rest. Make sure you do this for yourself as well.

After your breathing and heart rate have settled, repeat the sequence between three and five times for a great cardio and body workout.

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Two people and a pet work-out:

This routine is designed for two people.

What to do:

The first person throws the ball and runs against the dog to catch the ball

Meanwhile, the second person performs a body weight exercise using the sequence below which alternates between lower and upper body:

16x lunges (8 on each leg)
16 x push-ups
16 x squats or squat jumps
16 x running mountain climbers
16 x sit-ups or core exercises

When the first person returns they swap roles, and the second person throws the ball and runs against the dog, while the first person performs their body weight exercise

Aim to complete one full round each (i.e. working through all the above exercises).

Smaller breeds:

The advantage of having a smaller breed is that you can use your pooch as a power prop. When doing this, ensure both you and your dog are comfortable and your posture remains the priority.

Squats – To create added resistance, cradle your pet in your arms against your chest.

Sit Ups – Hold pup against the chest for added resistance.

Elbow plank (on knees or toes) – Come up into a straight arm plank position, reach out and pat your dog for a few seconds for an added challenge. Reset, hold and repeat with other hand.

Larger breeds:

Squat – with dog sitting in front of you. Hold squat position and ask dog for paw. Stand up and repeat with other paw.

Push ups – with dog sitting in front of you. Perform a push up and come back up to starting position for a wet sloppy kiss or ass a pat / treat.

Sit ups – Command dog to sit at feet, assume sit up position and give a treat every five sit ups.

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Important work-out tips

Where to work-out:

A dog-friendly park

What to bring:

A ball
A ball thrower
Leash
Poo bags
Dog treats
Water and a container
Your best friend

Tips to keep your work-out interesting:

Find an area with varied terrain i.e. combination of hills and flats. You’ll also need a bench or solid surface.

Perform the different exercises by holding the position for longer, going through the movements faster or slower changing the rate at which you perform each movement and /or change the amount of repetitions (reps) i.e. 14 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps.

When performing any exercise (which includes walking your dog), ensure that your posture is strong.

This means:
a. standing tall
b. relaxing the shoulders
c. keeping the head back and the chest lifted.

This will ensure that you and your pooch get the most out of your workout and maximise the amount of calories burnt.

If your dog has to be on a lead then a harness is a better alternative as they distribute pressure over a wider area and this minimises the risk of neck injury.

1 study from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and had a reduced chance of being obese than those who did not own or walk a dog. Source: http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009/February/feature1.htm

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