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Exercising with your dog *woof!*

February 27, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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As discussed in a previous blog, dogs are clearly more than man's best friend.They can significantly improve our health and quality of life.

They help us by enhancing our allergic response systems as children, providing endless love and companionship which helps improve the outcomes of individuals living with life threatening diseases.

They also increase the physical activity levels of children and adults who live alongside them!

I thought it would be a good to share ideas on how to safely maximize the physical activity opportunities your dog provides.

Strategies and tips:

  • Ensure your pup is well groomed (long toe nails could injure your dog during a workout), has rehearsed essential obedience commands (e.g. heel, sit, fetch, etc.) and has proper hydration and nutrition levels.
  • Include a 5-10 minute relaxed walk to the area of play (select a place with a large open area that caters to dogs). This will act as your warm up and cool down.
  • To loosen up and energize both of you, shake out your body while creatively dancing with your dog (if you love dancing, this can be the entire workout).
  • Play "Catch & Calisthenics": Send your dog for a hail mary (long toss) and use a throwing device if needed. Before the dog returns, perform (squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, pull-ups, shoulder raises or dips etc.) Park benches and playgrounds are great gym equipment! Select 1-3 exercises to do per throw based on your current fitness (aim for 8-25 reps/exercise). Contact the Physical Activity Line for detailed and individually tailored advice on how to perform these exercises.
  • Do interval training with your dog. This can be done by following your dog to the ball or frisbee once thrown and walking back to the original spot. When following the dog walk fast, jog or sprint. You can do this without throwing anything and just speed up the pace of your regular walk along with slower rest periods.

For the first few sessions, try 30-60 minutes and increase duration as you both adapt. Listen to your body, don't push yourself too far and look for signs of exhaustion with your dog (e.g. fast breathing and excessive panting, staggering, not obeying usual commands etc.) In addition, if you or your dog suffer from prolonged soreness, stiffness or fatigue following the workout, tone it down next time!

PS. Don't forget to contact the The Physical Activity Line for education and motivation to keep you moving safely!

PPS. I've included a slideshow from Web MD, providing examples of different exercises you can do with your pooch!


References & Resources:
WEB MD Slideshow: exercising with your dog

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