by Sandra Murphy
Staying healthy and active is a goal most people have. However, daily life gets in the way of exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation. When a crisis like the coronavirus hits, worry and an excess of conflicting information can add stress and decrease focus. Dr. Carol Osborne, an integrative veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, shares tips for weight loss, stress relief, and adapting for changes in your work schedule which in turn, affects your pets.
It’s March, and many New Year’s resolutions are a distant memory. We’ve all gained a few pounds over the winter, and by all, that means dogs and cats, too. Being so much smaller, those couple of pounds weigh heavier on them than on us. “Being just 10% overweight reduces your pet’s life span by one-third and can lead to a variety of disorders ranging from arthritis and diabetes to cancer and heart disease,” says Dr. Carol.
She has five fun and effective ways for you and your pet to exercise together. Walking your dog doesn’t have to be a chore. It should be something fun and beneficial for both of you. Put your cell phone in your pocket and leash up for a mindful walk!
5 Ways to Exercise with Your Pet This Spring
Plan a longer stroll in the morning or the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. Walk briskly, jog for 30 seconds, and then return to a brisk walk. Repeat every 2-3 minutes. The intervals will raise both of your heart rates, thus boosting your metabolisms.
Don’t forget some cats like leash walking as well, although Kitty may slow your pace. A strap on carrier, sling, backpack, or shoulder bag, each specially designed to keep a cat contained, will have vents for Kitty’s viewing of scenery and a breath of fresh air.
Fetch for Abs
Lie down in sit up position, holding your dog’s favorite toy. As you come to sitting position, pretend to throw the toy. Repeat as many times as your pooch is willing to play along. This game can also be played with a feather stick for cats.
If your pup is a good fetcher, willing to give up the toy on his return, do an extra sit up or two while he’s on his way back to you.
Same idea as the previous exercise, except this time you will get your dog’s attention with the toy as you squat down. Return to standing and have your dog jump to retrieve the toy.
Squats hard on your knees? Just bend over to touch your knees and proceed as above.
Race to the Finish
Head for the backyard or nearby park. As your furry friend takes off to retrieve the ball you’ve just thrown, run with him. Race to the toy, tug-o-war a bit before tossing again. This increases your heart rate with a quick burst of cardio and engage core strength at the same time.
A backyard agility course is easy to set up using cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, and a broom handle taped to two boxes for a jump. Run along. Vary the course to exercise your brain as well as your body.
Always a classic. If you don’t have stairs at home, consider lunges up and down a hill. Keeping your dog leashed by your side, progress up and down the stairs several times. Jog, skip a step, jump to the next step, climb sideways; there are numerous variations that can be done to intensify this work out for yourself while still allowing your dog to engage his hips, strengthen leg and back muscle.
If you worry about tripping or taking a misstep, or if you’re just in need of a break long before your dog is, sit at the top of the steps with his ball and then drop it. He’ll love the way it bounces. Multiple trips to grab it and return will burn extra calories for him and give you a breather.
Dance with your dog or cat. Cat’s probably need the added incentive of a toy on a string or a piece of yarn (do not let Kitty have this, if swallowed it can lead to complications). Dogs love music. Experiment to find out what kind. Do obedience to music or just dance to the beat.
Working from home can upset your dog’s routine, too. Breaking up the day with play times will encourage naps so you can get some work done too – or catch a few ZZZs yourself.
Exercise and pets are sure stress relievers, something we all need, any time.