Your pet might already think she’s your security guard or rodent-wrangler. Has she ever tried out for fitness coach?
Maybe she should. Fido and Fifi can be your secret weapons to better health, because they provide a great excuse to move more.
Here are some fun hacks to get both of you off the couch and out the door.
Walk the dog. Even if your dog plays in the backyard, he still needs a walk, and so do you. Physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity movement a week for humans. One study found that dog-walkers got an average of 30 minutes more exercise per day than non-walkers. Some dogs make great running buddies, too.
Get playful. Dogs can’t resist the lure of “the stick” or a good frisbee throw, and cats love to chase string, small objects or just about anything else. Find time for some fun and games.
Water the lawn. Run through the sprinklers with your favorite pooch. Your water-loathing cat, however, is excused. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
Take a walk in the park. Check out your local dog park. Your dog will love the ruff-housing, and you might make a new (human) friend or two. To find a dog park near you, visit your local parks and recreation website.
Pack up your pet. If you have a small dog or an indoor cat, consider getting a backpack-style carrier so you can bring your pet along on outdoor activities. The weight will add intensity to your workout without slowing you down.
Do the downward dog. Many yoga programs offer puppy yoga, cat yoga and even goat yoga. It’s basically the same yoga you already know, with the added bonus of including your favorite animal.
Dine out. Pack the picnic hamper with healthy treats and head for the hills — or even your favorite neighborhood park. Either way, you and your pet both will benefit from the fresh air and exercise.
Just hang out. Petting any beloved animal can lower your blood pressure. Spending time with your pet can also be relaxing, and that encourages the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that help us de-stress and feel good.
It doesn’t have to be all about dogs and cats, either. Turtles, guinea pigs and parakeets all contribute to a sense of companionship. And that’s always good for your heart.
Do you have a furry fitness friend in your life?