Are you looking to start a healthier life and get fit? If yes, then this article is for you. Walking your dog is an excellent way to incorporate some extra fitness into your life and you can definitely get fit while walking your dog.
In this article I’ve listed 5 easy steps to follow to get fit while walking your dog.
1. Do it daily
There is a teaching that if you want to achieve a goal, they key is to do something regarding your goal every day, even for just a little bit. This definitely applies if you want to get fit by walking your dog – do it every day.
Hopefully you are already walking your dog everyday (read my article about the importance of daily dog walking here), so why not use the daily dog walking as an opportunity to get fit yourself too? As walking is not high intensity exercise, it is important to do it often to get the maximum benefit out of it.
The first step is to increase the amount you walk your dog, if possible. If you only walk your dog every other day, start walking your dog daily. If you walk your dog once a day, start walking your dog twice a day. Dogs generally love to go for a walk so increasing the amount of your daily dog walks will benefit you both.
After increasing the amount of your dog walks, I can promise you’ll start noticing an increase in your energy levels after just a few days. One of my favorite times to go for a walk is early in the morning when there are barely any other people around. This is the time to just enjoy the fresh morning air and watch the birds fly around going about their morning activities. Morning dog walks really set me up for a happy mood for the rest of the day.
2. Add ankle weights
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, walking is not high intensity exercise. Thus, to increase calorie burn you can add extra resistance by wearing ankle weights.
Ankle weights are easy to put on as you simply strap them around your ankles. Ankle weights typically weigh from approximately 1 kg to up to 6 kg. If you’ve never worn ankle weights before, start off with lighter weights and see how they feel. After your body gets used to the ankle weights, you can invest in heavier ones.
The extra weight added by ankle weights on top of your body weight will really help with some extra calorie burn!
As an important note: some studies suggest that it is not good for your joints to wear ankle weights all the time. This is more of a caution for people with joint issues, but to keep your joints safe, only use ankle weights every now and then and not on a daily basis. Switching your daily dog walks from non-ankle weight days to wearing ankle weights will make your exercise regime versatile, which is great for building your fitness level.
3. Pick up the pace
Increasing your heart rate is key for getting the maximum benefit from a work out. Thus, if your dog allows it, increase your walking pace so that you can feel your heart rate go up.
When I go for a walk with my puppy, he usually spends the first 15-20 minutes sniffing everything. But once he’s satisfied with the sniffing he’s done, we usually pick up the pace. We either start walking a little faster or do short spurts of running for example up hills.
Pairing short spurts of high intensity exercise with rest intervals is known as high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT has been shown to be very effective in increasing fitness levels. To incorporate high intensity spurts into your dog walks, you can for example run for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of walking and repeating this several times.
If you have a small dog who is unable to run fast, you can carry your dog during your running spurts.
4. Wear amazing active wear
A good motivation for exercise is wearing nice work out outfits. To get yourself going with your daily exercise, invest in several nice work out tops and pants along with some nice shoes.
The active wear industry is evolving rapidly and there is a wide variety of clothes available for all shapes and sizes as well as for different kinds of weather. Many outdoor exercise clothes have handy pockets in them for keys.
A great way to add some extra versatility to your walk is to wear leg toning running shoes. Typically, these have a thick rounded sole that forces you to work your leg muscles more while walking. Who wouldn’t want nice toned legs, right?
5. Walk to warm up
Finally, if you’re unable to introduce high pace walking or running into your dog walk, a great way to kick start your daily exercising is to use your dog walk as a warm up for your own work out routine. Once you’ve returned from your dog walk, why not go for a 20-minute jog or do some squats and lunges in your backyard?
When wanting to exercise more, the hardest part is usually putting on your work out clothes and getting started. When you’re already dressed in active wear because of your dog walk, it will be very easy to continue with your own work out after your walk as you’re already done the hardest part.
I often use my daily dog walking as a warm up for a Pilates or yoga workout. When we come home from our walk, I usually get my yoga mat out while my puppy lies next to me happily chewing his bone. This allows for some additional bonding time for us after our walk.
A healthy balanced life
When aiming for a healthy balanced life, it is important to start from the inside. Treat your body well by eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and drinking a lot of water. Start from small changes so that your healthy lifestyle changes won’t become too overwhelming, ensuring you’ll stick to the changes.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below.
To many happy barks & walks,