Why walking your dog is as good as a workout

Let’s be honest, it’s not a lot of fun being locked down. There’s only so many boxsets you can watch, books you can read, or recipes you can try before you start getting cabin fever. The good news is that you are allowed to take an hour’s exercise every day. And if you have a dog in the family, those 60 minutes outdoors are extra precious. After all, if you think you’re bored at home, imagine how your dog feels! Of course, you’ve got to make your daily exercise count. So, here are a few tips on how to turn a walk with the dog into a full-on workout.

You burn more calories than you think

If you’re walking at a leisurely pace, say 3-4mph, you can expect to burn around 300 calories walking your dog. That’s not bad in itself, but with a bit more exertion on your part, you can ramp up the calorie-burn quite considerably. Let’s say you throw on your running shoes and rather than walk you jog with your dog. By moving at twice the speed of walking, you burn twice as many calories. Turn your jog into a run and you double it again. Or, if you’re not much of a runner, you could think about cycling instead. Again, the faster you go, the more calories you burn.

Add weight to your workout

If you’re not keen on jogging, perhaps because you want to protect your knees, you could think about adding weight to your walk instead. For example, could you chuck a few tin cans into a rucksack and wear that while you walk. It seems like a small adjustment, but the extra weight will not only help you burn more calories than you would on a normal walk, but it’ll also help strengthen your back muscles too.

Vary your route to keep it interesting

If you always take the same route when you walk your dog, things can quickly feel a bit samey. That could turn into a problem during lockdown, when the days and weekends all seem to blend into one another anyway. One way to avoid getting bored is to change up your route. It’s not unusual to discover new parts of the town or village you live in that you never knew existed before. Have a look on Google Maps and see if you can spot any open areas of green space that look big enough to throw a ball around in. Your dog will certainly thank you for the extra exercise, and you’ll feel better for cultivating a sense of discovery.

Change up the game of fetch

Let’s be honest, your dog runs faster, further and for longer than you do. They’ve a lot of energy to burn and a solid game of ‘fetch’ is just the thing to get them going. As an added bonus, it can help you work up a sweat too. If you’re happy to chuck a tennis ball around the park, that’s fine. But you could invest in a ball launcher, which allows you to throw the ball further – giving your dog even more reason to run. Or how about swapping a ball for a frisbee. Aim for a rubber sports disc and you can get some serious distance on it. Another alternative is a football. Playing football with a dog is a great way to keep you both fit and help your exercise more muscles than just your arms.

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