Fresh Tips for Keeping Your Pet Fit With Dr. Katy Nelson
Just like it’s important for our health and wellness to stay in shape, our dogs and cats can benefit from regular exercise, too. Of course it can be hard to find time to exercise in our busy schedules, let alone do so alongside our pets. Not to mention doing the same exercises over and over can get pretty boring.
So to help both you and your pet get in great shape with a fresh routine, here’s a list of my favorite ways to get moving:
Go for a Run – Instead of going to the gym to run on the treadmill, change things up and bring your fur-friend along! Most local tracks do not allow pets; so take the time to explore different options such as paths through the woods or roads with sidewalks. Not only will you get a chance to take in the fresh air, but you also get to spend more time with your favorite companion.
Go For a Hike – Hiking in a hilly area is a great way to change things up as it works different muscles than walking on a flat surface. The best part? You get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, soak in the sunshine, and take in some fresh air with you favorite friend! Just be sure to bring along plenty of water for both of you to stay hydrated.
Take a Morning Walk – Instead of waiting until after work to exercise, try taking a walk in the morning with your fur-kid. If you’re not a morning person, allow some of your pet’s natural energy to rub off on you and keep you motivated throughout the rest of the day.
Go For a Bike Ride – We know you’re thinking that your pals cannot pedal, but they don’t need to as long as you can! Get on a bike and go for a slow ride and bring your pooch along. While you do the biking, he or she can run alongside you. We’ve found that one of the easiest ways to do this is by hooking the leash around your wrist so you can still use both hands to control the bike. If you’re an expert roller skater or skateboarder, try this with your pal, too!
Doga – Dog yoga, or “doga,” can help de-stress you and your pup. This practice incorporates massaging, stretching, relaxing, and of course, some good bonding. You can even try “catoga” if your feline is willing. Ask around in your area because there might be group classes offered.
Fetch Races – Does your fur-friend love to play fetch? Well you should too! Instead of standing still while he or she chases the ball, try to make it a race. Not only will your pup enjoy this game even more, the short sprints will help you burn more fat and improve your agility.
Abs with Fur-Friends – Ever thrown a ball back and forth with a friend while doing crunches? Instead of a medicine ball, try a tennis ball. Throw the ball at the top of your crunch for your pup to chase down and return to you. Then repeat. For a more advanced exercise, see how many crunches you can do while your pup is chasing the ball. Cats can get in on the fun as well. Instead of throwing a ball, hold a small flashlight in one or both hands while you perform your sit-ups. Each time you reach the top, shine the lights on the wall in front of you and move your arms back and forth, always keeping your abs flexed. Your kitty will get exercise chasing the lights while you work on your six-pack.
Lift Weights – Tie your playful friend’s favorite toy so that it hangs from your dumbbell. As you move the dumbbell up and down, your pet will jump, working his or her leg muscles while you tone your arms. Try it while doing different exercises like bicep curls and shoulder presses, and for a full body workout, incorporate squats or lunges.
Play Tug-of-War – If your pup is feeling playful, grab a rope and work on your arm definition with a gentle game of tug-of-war. You can either attach the rope to their harness so they can pull with their body and run, or let them grab the rope with their teeth. Be careful not to pull too hard. Remember to always have control over your dog as playing this game may bring out the predator in him.
Swimming – Take your pal for a swim! While you do your daily laps in the pool, let your dog join you. If your pup isn’t the best swimmer, you can purchase floatation devices made especially for dogs from most pet stores to ensure their safety.
I hope you and your pets enjoy trying these exercises and activities! Don’t forget to speak with your doctor and your pet’s vet before starting any new exercise programs.