Engaging in physical activity with our dogs is an important component of the bond that we share with our four footed friends. Aside from the numerous physical health benefits such as stronger heart and bones, toned muscles, improved circulation; exercise helps keep them, and us, happy, calm, well-adjusted, and mentally stimulated.
Studies show that our dogs are not exercising enough, sleeping more than 50% of their day if not actively engaged or stimulated. Pet obesity rates continue to climb, reaching all time highs as well. Exercising your dog can prevent and treat many illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, and depression.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
To determine how much daily exercise is most beneficial for your dog, consider the types of physical activities your dog already does, breed, size, and current diet. Since one of the easiest ways to exercise your dog is walking, begin there. Start slowly with a daily 10-15 minute walk, gradually working up to a brisk 30-45 minute walk every day. This may take anywhere from a week to six weeks, depending on your level of fitness and your dog’s. (If your dog is currently overweight or sedentary, it is recommended that you consult your vet before beginning an exercise program).
Types of Walking
There are two kinds of walks:
- Walking for Pleasure - a casual stroll, with your dog stopping often to sniff things, typically at a pace of about 3 mph (a 20 minute mile).
- Walking for Exercise - walking at a faster rate to increase our heart rates, burn calories, and cause us to sweat and our dogs to pant (12-15 minutes per mile). At this pace, talking should be difficult.
Both types of walking have their benefits, however walking for pleasure will not help your dog lose weight, or reap the physiological benefits of walking for exercise.
Once you and your dog become comfortable with a 30-45 minute daily walk at a brisk pace (12-15 minutes per mile), you can begin to increase the time and distance, even include jogging to optimize aerobic and cardiovascular health. Adding resistance is an ideal way to increase fitness as well. This can be easily achieved by walking uphill. If you have a senior dog or dog with arthritis or joint problems and walking is undesirable, swimming is an excellent exercise option.
Exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle for our dogs and for us. There is no better preventive measure for disease than aerobic exercise. Most importantly, exercise makes us, and our dogs feel good. Isn’t that reason enough to grab your dog, his leash, and your walking/running shoes?
For a free, no-obligation consultation to revitalize your dog’s current daily exercise routine, or to begin one, contact Glenda at 520.904.1405.