Yes, your dog may just be the perfect workout partner for you.
In fact, walking your dog regularly can help you reach your physical activity goals. People who often walk their dogs are more likely – than those who don’t – to get 150 minutes of moderate weekly physical activity ever week.
Simply owning a dog won’t work, however. Nearly 40 percent of dog owners almost never walk their dogs, studies show. If you have a dog, now is the perfect time for both of you to start walking.
Here are 8 tips to help you create a walking routine with your dog:
- Walk your dog at the same time every day. A consistent routine helps everyone stay on track. The more you stick to this routine, the easier it will be to head out the door.
- Make sure it’s not too hot outside. Hot pavement can burn a dog’s paws. You can tell if asphalt is too hot for paws by placing the back of your hand against it. If you can’t hold it there longer than 5 seconds, schedule your walk for a cooler time.
- Start slowly, working up to a moderate pace. If you haven’t been walking your dog, he or she may be out of shape. You can always take two short walks to make it easier on both of you versus one long walk.
- Try walking new dog-friendly places to prevent getting bored. Your dog will probably never get bored walking around your neighborhood, but you might. Try walking the beach in the early morning. Make sure to check whether dogs are allowed and if they have to stay on a leash.
- Make sure to reward yourself and your pup with a nice drink of water. Staying hydrated is important whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.
- Experiment with different leashes to find one that works best for you. Some dogs love retractable leashes while others do best on a standard short leash.
- Always walk where it’s safe and well-lit (if you’re walking at night).
- Wear a fitness tracker so you know how far you’re walking and how many calories you’re burning. Fitness trackers can help you get off the couch when you realize how many steps you aren’t taking by watching TV.