exercising with your pets

The Health Benefits of Exercising with Your Pets

Peter Bua Exercise Leave a Comment

Exercising is good for you, but exercising with your pets is even better! Both people and pets benefit from a good workout, and exercising together just gives you more time to spend enjoying each other’s company. So before your next workout, decide how to involve your furry best friend in the activity. Here’s why you should do it and how to start safely exercising with your pets.

If you’re having trouble mustering up the motivation to work out at all, read: 5 Tips to Help Stay Motivated to Workout

Why Exercising with Your Pets Is Recommended

If you’re considering going for a run or walk, take your pet with you because you both benefit from getting some exercise. First, working out helps both humans and animals reach and maintain a healthy weight. If the vet has said your dog is overweight, regular workouts can help him or her slim down. Doing so can prevent your pet from developing certain weight-related conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure. And obviously, regular exercise can do the same for you!

Even if your pet is at a healthy weight, working out can still help some animals avoid health conditions they might be prone to. For example, exercise can reduce the chances that your dog will end up with stiff joints, arthritis, or hip dysplasia. And of course, workouts can improve the mental health of both humans and animals. You know how exercise can just put you in a good mood? It does the same for pets. One group of vets discovered that aerobic exercise could improve the production of serotonin in the dog brain, helping them feel more relaxed and less aggressive.

Another reason exercising with your pets is a good idea is that you get a workout buddy! And if you have any experience with workout buddies, you know they help keep you motivated even on days you’d rather be sleeping. After all, once you get in the habit of exercising with your dog, you know he’s going to be waiting excitedly by the door– perhaps with his leash in his mouth—for you to join him for a run whether you want to or not. Now that’s a dedicated workout buddy! It’s no wonder that one study by Michigan State University discovered that dog owners were 34% more likely to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week than people who didn’t have a dog.

If you can’t get out of the house to get in your workout today, try: The Ultimate 20 Minute At-Home Workout

Best Workouts To Do with Pets

Now that you’re ready to exercise with your dog, what should you do? Well, you can always rely on the standard walk or run to get outdoors while increasing your heart rate. But if you want to try something new, consider hiking, rollerblading, or riding a bike while your dog runs alongside you.

Other options include kayaking, paddleboarding, stair running, or snowshoeing, depending on the climate you live in. Even running in the sand at the beach, lake, or park is a great way to amp up your workout. Don’t forget to bring a ball or Frisbee so you can stop and play fetch with your pet! Plus, there are exercise programs that are intended for you and your dog, such as dog yoga and these workout classes. Just be sure to consider your pet’s fitness and ability to keep up with you—or your ability to keep up with your dog!—before you plan certain workouts.

How to Stay Safe When Exercising with Your Pets

You probably know how to keep yourself safe while working out: drink lots of water, wear sunscreen outside, and stop to catch your breath sometimes. But it can be trickier to know when your dog needs help during the workout. Just remember that dogs have different ways of cooling off than we do. Their only sweat glands are in their paws, so sweating isn’t their main way of cooling down. Instead, it’s panting. So make sure your dog has access to water if you notice him or her panting excessively or even drooling.

In addition, some breeds can overheat easier than others. Dogs with short snouts—like pugs, boxers, and Boston terriers—can’t handle as much exercise as other breeds. So don’t plan on super long workouts with pets that might have trouble staying cool. And for that matter, don’t try exercising with your pets in the direct sunlight. Go in the morning or wait until the evening when it’s a little cooler—at which point the pavement shouldn’t be hot enough to burn your dog’s feet!

Now that you know why exercising with your pets is so important and which workouts to try, you can start reaping the benefits of having a furry little workout buddy! Just heed our safety tips before you go and you should have a great workout that you can both appreciate.

Here’s what to eat to keep your energy up after you exercise: 10 Muscle-Building Post-Workout Breakfasts

More sources on exercising with your pets:
5 Benefits of Outdoor Exercise with Your Dog
Pet Talk: Exercise with your pet this New Year
Do Dogs Sweat?