The benefits of exercise are well-documented, and as we struggle to stay fit, fitness crazes come and go. From jazzercise to home gym machines to fitness videos and video games to all manner of exercise classes, celebrity-endorsed fitness equipment, and workout routines, there is always a new trend to help us stay in shape. But are our pets ready to be part of the next fitness craze?
What Are Pet-Accompanied Workouts?
A pet-accompanied workout is any fitness routine with your pet as your workout buddy. The workout may be as simple as a basic walk or game of fetch, or it could be a more complex, intense activity that gives you both the ultimate in cardiovascular exercise, interval training or other types of fitness routines. Different pet-accompanied workouts include…
- Obstacle courses, agility courses, steeplechases or similar competitions
- Interval walks with jogging or running spurts to change the intensity
- Stair running routines or more intense hiking routes
- Active fetch games such as playing tennis or Frisbee with your pet
- Playing soccer with a herding dog breed
- Swimming or water games to increase resistance training
- Intense tug-of-war games with larger, stronger dog breeds
- 5K races or fun runs that welcome pet participation
- Visiting a pet-friendly fitness center with different workout areas
- Engaging your pet in fitness fun such as cycling, kayaking, paddle boarding or rollerblading
The key to a pet-accompanied workout is that both you and your pet are moving, stretching and engaging in the physical motion that can keep you both healthy and fit.
Why You Should Work Out With Your Pet
Better physical fitness, toning, and strengthening are the obvious benefits of working out with your pet, including improving endurance and reducing the risk of disease for a long, healthy life. There are many other positive results when you include your pet in a workout routine, however. If you work out with your pet, you can…
- Improve your own motivation to work out because your pet will need and expect the activity
- Socialize your pet with different noises, locations, people and activities
- Strengthen your bond with your pet through the extended time you spend together
- Reinforce your pet's training as they look to you for signals and commands during the workout
Whether you choose a simple, easy workout or a more formalized fitness routine, both you and your pet will enjoy many benefits of sharing exercise together.
Tips for Better Pet-Accompanied Workouts
Just as you should consult a physician before starting any exercise routine, it is important to consult a veterinarian before getting your pet involved in your workouts. The vet can examine your pet's overall health and offer recommendations for the types of exercises that will be safest for your pet based on their joints, lungs, heart, age and general physical condition. Once you have the clearance to start working out together, always keep your pet's safety in mind with the physical activities you share.
- Start workouts slowly, with appropriate warm-ups to relax muscles and prevent strains.
- Time workouts to safe times of day, such as during cooler morning hours in the summer.
- Use safety equipment as needed for the type of workouts, such as a leash or pet life jacket.
- Stay properly hydrated before, during and after the workout.
- Build up the intensity and length of workouts gradually to prevent strains and injuries.
- Change workouts regularly to exercise different muscles and keep your pet's interest.
- Stay alert to your pet's signals for signs of fatigue, injury, dehydration, etc.
- Be aware of your surroundings to always keep you and your pet safe when working out.
Working out with your pet can be rewarding in many ways, both for health and for the bond you share with your animal friend. By properly preparing for the workout and exercising safely, you both will enjoy a fit, healthy lifestyle.