Keeping your dog happy and healthy doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and it doesn’t have to cut in on your gym time. In fact, having a dog is a great way to save money and to encourage yourself to maintain a fitness routine without paying for a gym membership.
If you find it difficult to make time for a long walk with your dog, consider reframing your day around that priority. Getting fit doesn’t have to be a huge commitment or come with an enrollment fee. The main things you’ll need are yourself, your dog, and a willingness to try something new together.
You don’t have to know how to bike with your dog today – this is the kind of skill that takes time (and some talent) to achieve. You may want to start by learning how to run with a dog or take it all the way back to a walk. This post will list a few ways you can integrate exercise with your dog into your busy schedule without adding another monthly payment to your budget.
A note on dogs: Like us, they come in all shapes and sizes. Some of these activities may not be appropriate for small dogs or those with older joints. Please use your best judgment when embarking (or em-bark-ing) on these activities.
Getting exercise with your dog doesn’t necessarily require equipment, whether that’s a treadmill or kettlebells. Here are three easy activities you can do to include your dog in your daily outings:
Walk, jog, or run. It’s that’s simple. Whatever speed you prefer, your dog will be psyched to get outside. As with your own training plans, gradually increase your pace and mileage with your canine friend to keep them strong and injury-free. If you’re looking for a program to help you pace yourself, Couch to 5k has a great (free) app to help you get started.
Bike. If you are an avid biker, consider bringing your dog along. This will take some training and is only a good idea for dogs who know how to heel. You should be sure to use a quick release leash for emergencies, like one of these leashes recommended for bikers.
Rollerblade. If you’re a rollerblader, you’re already among a self-selecting group of daredevils. As with a bike, you should make sure you’ve got a well-trained dog and a quick-release leash. This is best done on a bike path or in an area without heavy car traffic.
If you already take your dog for at least one thirty-minute walk each day, consider going farther or quickening your pace. You don’t have to take your dog out marathon training to help improve their health and yours.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to get in a workout is to add in a little competition. You can race your dog around the high school track if you really want to, but we’ve got a few better ideas for playing games to get you and your dog moving:
Play a game of fetch that’s active for both of you. Maybe you’ll recognize this set-up from high school soccer practice. The basic idea is to play fetch in a field. Start at one end of the space and throw the ball forward at a diagonal. While your dog runs to get the ball, you should run too. Try to run past your dog so that they have to keep running forward to meet you. Continue playing until you get to the end of the field, then turn around and go back in the other direction. For an added challenge: try running backwards on your second round!
Many dogs are more talented at catching a frisbee than their owners, which means this may be a great opportunity for you to grow your own skill set. If you don’t feel confident in your dog’s ability to catch a disc (it’s tough), consult this simple guide on how to teach a dog frisbee. Frisbee will improve your coordination and your upper body strength.
Swimming is only an option in the summer months in many parts of the United States, but that just means it’s a special opportunity to spend time getting fit with your pup when the weather is right. If your dog is a confident swimmer, consider playing in-water fetch or a race to the shore from a short distance out in the water.
Buddy workouts with human friends may provide motivation – why shouldn’t working out with your pup do the same? Bringing along treats and toys to help motivate your dog will ultimately help keep you going too.
Take a page off the internet and do free workouts designed for you and your best friend. If your dog is well-trained, follows directions, and loves to work out by your side, the internet has you covered:
Check out these participatory exercises that you can do with your dog. Helpfully accompanied by gifs, you can modify these to match your fitness level and workout needs.
For those without gym equipment at home, bodyweight exercises you can do indoors with the help of your pup are a great option to keep both of you active.
If your dog has great balance, a passion for stretching, and loves to mimic you, doga may be your calling. Doga is a spinoff of yoga in which your yoga partner is – you guessed it – your dog. Advanced doga isn’t for everyone, but it may provide you with the inspiration you need to get moving and to bring your best friend along with you.
Your dog may be too easily distracted to handle a workout outside on a sunny day, and that’s okay! The goal is to get both of you to use your muscles, and you can do that indoors or out.
At the end of the day, just getting out of the house for a walk will improve your health. Studies show that having a dog is a great way to get yourself moving, primarily because “dogs need us to walk them.”
If you don’t feel motivated to work out on your own, consider your dog’s health. In a 2018 study, 36.9 percent of dogs in the US were classified as overweight. If your pet is within that group, let your love for them help you both get off the couch. You’ll feel better for it, and so will they.