If You Are Thinking About Getting a Personal Trainer, You Might Just Need a Dog
I had never realized this before but it's true, my dog is my personal trainer. A few months ago, my friend came to visit me in my new home in Georgia. She lives in Massachusetts, and this was the first time she saw my new home and new community. Because we are both health conscious and always trying to lose weight/get in shape, I was excited to tell her she could come on my walks with the dog every day.
You see I enjoy exercising outside and my husband enjoys working out at the fitness center in our community. I find walking on a treadmill rather boring, and walking is my exercise of choice. My husband goes to the fitness center every day between 4:30 and 5:00 pm. And when he leaves, I leave with Reeses to go for our walk. We walk at a brisk pace for thirty minutes every day.
Since we moved from New England to Big Canoe, Georgia, I have been thrilled to walk on the many different walking trails that are available in my new community. Some are paved, others are gravel, and then there are some actual hiking trails through the woods. With 20 miles of trails, my dog and I have a variety of beautiful places to walk and get in our exercise. And we do this every day, even in the cold and snow. BUT I must say I don't walk her in heavy rain. I don't like rain at all so on those days we stay home.
So when my friend came down, she was here to walk with us only for three days. Each day she observed our daily ritual. My husband got ready to work out. He went to the closet to get his work out, and as soon as he did that, the dog got very excited. She gets so excited when this happens because she knows that is the cue for us to take our walk. She starts to yip and jumps up and down, first around him and then she comes to me. We have to tell her to calm down because she gets so excited. Sometimes when he leaves, she runs in circles around me, especially when she sees me putting my sneakers on. She will start to bark with excitement. You would think we are taking her to the doggy equivalent of Disney World but in reality, we are driving 5 to 10 minutes to a walking trail! Half the time I don't even want to walk, but I do it because I don't want to disappoint her!
I read once that you should walk your dogs in a different area every day, so they have the chance to smell different scents every day which keeps their minds sharp. This is especially helpful to them as they age and become senior dogs (this means dogs that are ages seven and up). Since we have so many choices of trails, it is easy for me to keep her alert and we walk on a different trail each day.
Below are a few of my favorite paths to walk her on...
My friend watched our routine for the three days she was here, and then made the remark that Reeses is my personal trainer. At first, I laughed, but then realized she is totally right. And here's why my dog is my trainer:
She is a great motivator. She gets me out walking for exercise every day on a routine basis (except for the rainy days of course). If it weren't for her, I would often find excuses for not going. But when I see how excited she gets when it is time to go, I find it very hard to break her heart and not go.
She pushes me to go farther than I want to go. Sometimes I see her so happy on the trails that even when our 30 minutes is up, I keep walking with her. I don't want to disappoint her, and to keep walking is good exercise for her and me as well. When she sees a dog park, which she does on two of our trails, she gets excited all over again and runs right up to the gate, and if there's time, I usually take her in and throw tennis balls for her to chase. Because she doesn't bring them back all the way to me, I have to walk extra steps to get the ball. This also causes me to bend down and pick the balls up, which is good for my legs and waist. I could train her to bring the ball right back all the way to me, but our current routine is better for me. I always wear a pedometer, so I appreciate the extra steps I have to walk to get her balls.
Walking on different terrains every day gives me a variety of workouts. Because she is 11 years old and considered a senior dog, I know it is important for us to walk on different paths every day. And so we do, but in doing that, we cover different terrains. Some days we will walk up and down five hills, other days we have flatter terrain to cover with only one hill, but that one hill is higher than all of the other hills on the other paths. So the variety is a good one for my health and gives my muscles a varied workout.
So there you have it: three ways my dog is my personal trainer. Of course, she is less expensive than a personal trainer. All I have to pay for is her food, a few dog toys, and an annual vet appointment. Worth it if you ask me! PLUS not only do I get rewarded by staying in shape, but her doggy kisses when we get back in the car after our walk are wonderful as well!
Do you have a dog? Is he/she your personal trainer?
If you don't have a dog and want to stay in shape, I highly recommend you look into getting one. And dogs in shelters are much more appreciative when adopted than those that are bred from expensive breeders. And they cost a lot too. Reeses came from the Humane Society, but if you don't have one near you, might try the ASPCA or your local dog pound.
If you aren't able to have a dog in your home, try borrowing a friend's dog a few days a week. Or volunteer at a dog rescue center as a dog walker. And you can have a dog as your personal trainer as well!
Addendum: Proof that Dogs Help People Get Exercise
I just met a man on a walking trail yesterday who told me if he didn't have his Golden Retriever, he would never get out and exercise. As it is, his wife walks the dog in the morning, and he walks her in the afternoon.
And since I originally wrote this article, my sweet dog Reeses has died of kidney disease. We miss her SO much but what I have noticed is that without her, both my husband and I get less exercise. He used to take her for a walk every morning around our neighborhood. And I used to take her for a walk on the walking trails in our community every evening around 6:00 pm. Now that she is gone, my husband never walks in the morning, and walking on the trails without her makes me too sad, so I don't walk as much as I used to.
I did start volunteering to walk rescue dogs once a week at our community's animal rescue center. It's called BCAR (Big Canoe Animal Rescue) and the dogs there are available for adoption. I don't miss Reeses on those walks because I am busy walking a totally different dog which does not bring back the same memories when we walk the walking trails. And I enjoy watching the dogs enjoy themselves on our walk. Walking the rescue dogs gives me even more exercise because I used to walk Reeses for 30 minutes and the walks with the rescue dogs are usually 45 minutes to 1 hour. So even if you don't have a dog of your own, walking a rescue dog will give you plenty of exercise.
Here's a Helpful Video With Tips for Exercising with Your Dog
Big Canoe Animal Rescue
Dog Exercise Poll
Do You Have a Dog Who Encourages You To Get Out and Exercise
And if you are still with me at this point, I couldn't resist sharing this funny video of animals exercising with their owners. Enjoy!
© 2017 Karen Hellier