Not enough time in your day to keep fit and exercise your dog? Diana Wilkinson reveals how to get fit with Fido and how easy it is to incorporate a dog-friendly fitness routine into your life.
The NHS Choices website states what we all know deep down – that us humans don’t get enough exercise and we don’t know how to get fit. Adults should get at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise per week. However, when you’re a busy dog owner, it’s sometimes hard to find time for both Fido’s fitness, and yours. But combining the two can be fun and beneficial to both of you, and there are many great options for dog-friendly fitness routines.
Personal Trainer extraordinaire Becky Groves runs a free weekly outdoor cross-training session in Fulham, on behalf of the Fulham Road branch of Runners Need. It’s a brilliant dog-friendly session, and can not only get the dogs excited to join in on the running intervals, but is also good training while they learn to wait patiently for you to do your squats and sits ups! Don’t forget to bring whatever will make it easier for you and more fun for your dog: a ball to throw to encourage them to stay with the pack, a favourite chew toy, or stuffed Kong to occupy them while you’re doing mat work. And of course, water for you both. Session runs every Tuesday morning, leaves Runners Need at 9:30am, no need to book, suits all abilities, and did we mention it’s free?
Runners Need Fulham 0207 384 9942 or check out their website to see if they do classes in your area.
London is awash with dog-friendly outdoor spaces. One of our favourite dog-human workouts is cycling along the river, especially the stretch between the Putney and Hammersmith bridges. On the North side of the river, it’s paved and enclosed, with many fun sights and smells for your dog. But when you get to the tow path on the South side, that’s when the dogs really come alive. From chasing squirrels to stalking ducks, the dogs can’t get enough. And the bike not only gets you your workout, it keeps the pups propelling forward, giving them a great run. Stop and offer water at regular intervals, as all that exercise can get you both thirsty! And don’t forget to reward them with a tasty treat when they come to you, reinforcing the fact that it’s not just a free-for-all play and explore session, but always incorporates good training.
Tweet us your favourite places near you where you like to cycle with your dog.
Whether you already run or not, you can both benefit from a run together. A dog in London usually gets his walks on a lead, at a slow and steady pace. But running with your dog can get rid of excess energy and build up fitness for both of you. You can run almost anywhere you would walk with your dog, so the sky’s the limit in terms of location. Mix it up to keep it interesting: run around a park one day, along a river or canal the next, or end up at your favourite dog-friendly pub or cafe as a reward for you both. Keep Fido on the lead wherever there might be too many distractions or hazards, and keep an eye out for glass, rocks, or other dangers. And know your dog’s breed limitations. You might have the energy of a Labrador, but if your pooch is a Pomeranian, keep the distances realistic for her abilities and fitness level.
Before you start:
We humans are always cautioned to consult our doctor before beginning any exercise program, which is a sensible idea for your dog. Consult your vet, making sure Fido is ready to join you. Build up your workouts gradually, letting your dog’s stamina increase at a safe pace. And always listen to her cues: excessive panting, foaming at the mouth, or slowing down are all signs that you should take a break.
Your dog can be the best training partner, always eager to go out, never complaining, always making it more fun. Focusing on your dog can make a workout fly by, helping you both to make it a regular habit on your path to fitness.