Your pet could be the next best thing to help you lose those extra pounds. With the rate of obesity on both humans and our lovely pets (dogs and cats) on the rise, experts are saying that pets are not getting enough exercises. The advantage of walking your dog is that it’s neither strenuous nor stressful. In fact, it’s a fun activity that works on both your weight and that of your pet. People blame the lack of exercise on the current lifestyle where they are too busy at work. But, you can create as little as 30 minutes in the evenings to walk your dog, and gain the benefits of burning fat together.
Dogs and Weight Loss
Many people lack the commitment to hit the gym daily to work out. And, the increasing trend of obese people is worrying. Studies now show a direct link between taking your dog for a walk and weight loss.
The problem is that people lose the motivation to walk somewhere down the road, and this makes it difficult to fight obesity. One study sought to find out whether a dog could be a motivator for people to continue walking.According to Rebecca Johnson, who was an associate professor of nursing and director of the College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri-Columbia at the time of the study, the aim of the study was to see whether introducing a dog to the life of overweight people could help them walk more.
It emerged that dogs didn’t just motivate people to walk, but it also established a bonding, which was shown to reduce stress levels in humans. The participants (dog-walkers) were provided with trained dogs and they started by walking for 10 minutes per day three times per week. They eventually increased these intervals to 20 minutes per day five times per week. One group walked for 26 weeks while another walked for up to 50 weeks. The results were impressive: dog-walkers who walked for 50 weeks lost an average of 14 pounds during the program’s one-year duration.
How Much Weight Can I Lose Walking my Dog?
As mentioned above, in the study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia, participants lost 14 pounds over one year. But you can lose more if you want, the trick is consistency and walking longer distances. However, you need to choose the dog breeds wisely. For instance, Bulldogs and Pugs don’t have the normal anatomy to walk or run for long distances, unlike Labs or Retrievers. The same applies to short-legged pets. Likewise, walk your dog early in the mornings and the evenings when the weather is not too hot or humid. You should also check in with your vet to examine if your dog has respiratory issues or other health complications that can interfere with performing physical exercises. Another advantage of walking your dog is that when he gets used to the routine, he will always nag you that it’s time for your walk. And once you establish a certain walking routine, you will burn more calories by covering longer distances.
Alternatives to Walking Your Dog
If you have a breed that can keep up with a more rigorous routine, then you can start jogging or add biking to your exercise routine. Dogs will love the workout since dogs off the leash burn more calories. Biking is more intense and can burn up to 300 calories an hour.
What to Expect When Walking Your Dog
- Dogs don’t just walk on a straight line or as per the route. They like sniffing at things and marking their territories. This is normal and you should let them do their business. Let the sniffing moments be your chance to take a break too. Luckily, if you follow the same route, the dog will get used to it, eventually making fewer stops.
- If you have a strong, boisterous breed, know that the pace will be faster. Try to keep up with your four-legged friend, and you’ll burn more calories.
- When starting out, you can expect some pain in your muscles and joints. This is normal as the body adjusts to the new exercise routine. When the stiffness and aches become too much, take a break for about a day or two, and then resume the walks. Eventually, your body will fully adjust and you can add more challenges like taking a hilly route.
- Try new routes to avoid boredom. But watch out for foreign objects that could harm your dog, either by stepping on them or when the dog tries to swallow them.
- To know if you’re making progress, weight yourself and your dog every week. This will help you know the rate at which you’re losing weight, and if you need to increase your pace and distance.
Walking alone doesn’t count when it comes to weight loss. Your diet, as well as your dog’s, plays a huge role in the number of calories you take in. Eating a healthy balanced meal and providing your dog with a healthy meal will increase your chances of keeping lean and fit. If you don’t own a dog, get one today. Pets help us stay happy, find time to walk, meet new people, and even fight stress and depression. Plus, you get to experience nature and just enjoy your time out.
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