Making your four-legged pal exercise can help him avoid health woes. A pet can also get you into shape, say experts.
If you have been a couch potato so far, with little or no inclination to exercise, time you got yourself a four-legged pal. New research determines that children from dog-owning families exercise more than those without pooches. The American Journal of Public Health published a study saying kids with dogs spend an average of 325 minutes doing physical activity per day, 11 more than those without dogs. The same rule could apply for adults. It was also found that dogs can be very good motivators to get people moving.
Fitness experts have their say:
A study mentions how dog walkers meet cardio vascular exercise requirement at least thrice a week. “Though walking with the dog can be rejuvenating, it’s not really a full-cardio workout. However, if you’re running with the dog it can reach the fat-burning range, which you need. What is advisable is to keep a heart rate monitor with you which shows if you are in the target heart rate zone,” says fitness expert Althea Shah.
What seems to be a distinct advantage of this outdoor workout is that while gym-goers exercise inside an air-conditioned gym, dog walkers are able to enjoy fresh air. Agrees Shah. “That would be true; you feel invigorated as it’s the outdoors,” she adds.
A large difference between the gym and being outside is that for most people a gym workout starts to feel like a chore and dog-walking can be far more enjoyable. Says fitness expert Jivesh Shetty, “What happens is everybody doesn’t have the same goals and passions, soon an ‘X’ amount of gym hours coupled with needing to eat correctly, becomes a strain. A pet can be a good start-up to the gym; they are playful so you don’t realise the amount of time you spend with them. It’s also relaxing, a lot of workouts are stressful in the beginning, but being with a pet is like being with family. Plus, you can’t always have a partner, or too many friends, so a dog can help. Evenings and early mornings give you a good hour of training. All said, in Mumbai there are only a few places where you can run with your dog. For building muscle, you need weight training.”
Avoid these woes:
When pets gain flab, they increase the risk of developing arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, behavioral problems and cancer. Exercise is said to improve a dog’s bone an joint health.
3 Ways to have fun with your pet
1) Play hide ‘n’ seek: Imagine you’re playing throw and fetch but this time don’t throw anything into the distance. Just show your pooch his or her favorite toy. Hide it and tell him to go fetch it.
2) Follow your pace: Show your pet cat or dog or his favourite food or toy and then start walking with it. As he or she follows you, quicken the pace.
3) Create the ‘dogstacle’ course: Set up a realistic obstacle course made of empty boxers, small tubs and piled up pillows and make your dog jump over these. You can get creative and set up your own obstacle course alongside and have him play follow the leader.