Walk Your Dog To Better Health

You’ll burn about 125 calories on a 30-minute dog walk

At the start of a new year, people always think about what they need to do for a better year and developing healthy habits always tops the list. While people often make plans to start a regular exercise program, icy sidewalks, crisp mornings, and shorter winter daylight provide easy excuses for forgetting your resolution. You don’t need a gym membership or elaborate equipment to help get you on track. Research consistently shows that people are most likely to exercise when they make dog walking their exercise of choice. Time with Fido can be a great way to burn calories. For example, you’ll burn about 125 calories on a 30-minute dog walk.

The World Health Organization recommends adults get a total of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week. The good news is that the health benefits you get from exercise are usually better if you break your exercise into short sessions rather than trying to fit in one or two long exercise sessions a week. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people instructed to break exercise into 10 to 15 minute segments logged more exercise hours, were more likely to stick with their exercise, and lost more weight than those trying to do longer exercise sessions.

Dog walking can be a great way to fulfill your 2013 exercise resolution. Here’s all you need:

  • A four-legged exercise buddy
  • A leash
  • Poopie bags
  • Proper clothing for your weather conditions

Plan to walk a total of 30 minutes five days each week. You can take three 10-minute walks, two 15-minute walks, or any combination that totals 150 minutes per week. Once you get comfortable with your walking, try picking up your pace or adding some hills to your daily walks for an added exercise boost. Use the diary below to help you keep track of your progress.

Fit As Fido monthly walking calendar

Diary reproduced from Fit As Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health by Dawn A. Marcus, MD

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  1. We know the health benefits of walking for ourselves, but the benefits are the same for our four-legged companions. As a dog, having a sedentary lifestyle is just as harmful as having one as a human. It includes all the risks such as heart disease and obesity (which can lead to all sorts of complications). So if you don’t have motivation to walk for just yourself, walk for your four-legged friend too!!

  2. Amen, Sarah! Just returned from this morning’s dog walk to see your comment. Happy walking!

  3. Kristen E. MartinMay 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    My aunt has a 14-year-old short-legged poodle-wiennie mix. She’s very obese, and my aunt doesn’t want her to be healthy, just happy, in her last years. I’m in charge of walking the dog, but she can’t make it very far before she’s winded. No help from my aunt, so what can I do to help Winnie-Pooh enjoy her walks? Also, I have 10-year-old chihuahua, in great health. Would 30 minutes nonstop be asking too much for her?

  4. Not really knowing the dog, my guess is a 30-minute nonstop walk would be too much. I’d try starting out with a couple 10-minute walks a day and make sure she gets plenty of water. make sure the walks are fun and don’t push her to go too fast if she’s not accustomed to that. you might also try trips with her to your local pet store. Then you won’t have to worry about the heat and she might enjoy the stimulation of going up and down the aisles to check out all the smells and toys. Walking should be a fun time for all. With an older, inactive dog — just like a human — start low and go slow. Your 10-year old can likely do a 30-minute walk, if she’s in good health. If she’s not comfortable walking this long, try a couple shorter walks or three short walks each day. Walk length probably depends on temperature and terrain, too. Be sure to walk when it’s cooler out and provide plenty of opportunities for drinks.

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