There are benefits to exercising with your dog


By Kathy Hansen - Contributing columnist



Only July Fourth we lost a very important member of our family, our beloved dog/fourth Hansen sister, Tia Maria.

I was not really sure I was ready to open my heart and my house again to another fur buddy until the girls and I caught a glimpse of a cute little fella on the Robeson County Human Society website. After two in-person visits, we were hooked, and since then Bruce Wayne, aka Batman Hansen, is the newest member of the family. Bruce is wide open, loves to run, jump, catch and fetch. Since he is so active, he is great for keeping us moving as well. He and I can be seen some evenings running circles around the dog park out on Meadow Road until both of us have our tongues hanging out. In honor of Bruce and your family’s four-legged friends, let’s look at how the both of you can get some quality exercise together.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States. That is a bunch of dogs looking for a human workout partner. Dogs, like people, come in all sizes, shapes and models and one thing is for certain: Both need to exercise. Humans and canines were designed to be in constant motion. From early history, dogs and humans tracked down their next meal on foot. Fast forward to the present and both of us need only to walk as far as the refrigerator or the nearest dog bowl to eat.

There are strong parallels between why human and dog physical activity is limited. For us it is cars, desks and computers, while for dogs it is kennels, crates and too much time cooped up indoors. Obesity, diabetes, joint pain, feelings of stress and other chronic problems also affect people and dogs in similar ways. Therefore, exercising together can benefit the both of you.

Let’s look at some of the perks of pounding the pavement with your pooch:

— Maintaining healthy body weight: Lots of calories are burned for you and your dog during a brisk walk and or jog. Just 30 minutes a day can make a difference for the both of you.

— Time savings: Exercising with your pet is a huge time-saver. Getting them out and moving takes care of their toileting needs, and is a great time to work on obedience training. For you, it is a chance to get in that much-needed walk or run.

— Stress management: Exercise will benefit the both of you on an emotional level. The endorphins that are released from exercise can elevate the mood of both you and your pooch. According to the experts, dogs that chew, tip the garbage and perform other random acts of vandalism in your home do so because of pent up energy, not because they are getting back at you for leaving them alone.

— Safety in numbers: If you are jogging or walking, it is much safer to have a big or even a small protective dog along if you are exercising alone. Just make sure to keep him on a leash so he does not run off and get the both of you in trouble.

— Keeping you motivated: New research from Michigan State University shows that people with canine companions are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week than are folks with other pets — kitties, lizards, hamsters — or none at all.

Keep in mind that the breed of your dog may affect your workout. Short-legged dogs, like a Dachshund or Pekinese, will not last as long as a larger breeds. If your furry friend is vertically challenged, you can squeeze in some strength training carrying him back home.

Exercising with your dog will be fun and beneficial to your health. Make sure to pick up after your pooch, watch out for cars and most of all, enjoy the company.

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By Kathy Hansen

Contributing columnist

Kathy Hansen has over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field and highly recommends a rescue dog or cat as your buddy. She can be reached via email at hansen02@srmc.org

Kathy Hansen has over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field and highly recommends a rescue dog or cat as your buddy. She can be reached via email at hansen02@srmc.org

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