Seven fun ways to exercise with your pets
From the stress-busting benefits of stroking your cat to the fact that dogs can boost our mood on a lonely day, we all know that pets are great for us. But can they also help us stay in shape?
Unsurprisingly, a recent study found that dog owners are 34% more likely to get their recommended minimum helping of weekly exercise than non-pet owners - but pet fitness goes further than a stroll. We’ve picked out seven fun ways to exercise with your pet and help you both stay fit and healthy.
1. Walkies! – It’s the obvious one but all dogs love walkies, so grab your lead and head outdoors. Just like people, dogs need regular exercise, which can provide great motivation for anyone looking to walk or run more regularly. Combine your daily dog walk with a jog. Don’t worry – a fit pooch will be fast enough to keep up.
2. Cycling – Young dogs in particular can be bundles of energy and making sure that they get enough exercise can be a real challenge. If your pet is running rings around you then consider jumping into the saddle and taking him for a bike ride. You’ll be getting a great cardio workout while tiring your dog out so they don’t cause chaos around the house.
3. Flyball – If you’ve ever watched Crufts then you won’t have missed flyball. This high-octane, competitive sport is loved by dogs and many of their owners and learning how to play can be great fun for both. Flyball will be more of a workout for your dog than for you but you can always try your own shuttle runs while she chases the ball.
4. Doga – Doga has to be seen to be believed. A combination of traditional Hatha yoga and … er ... dogs, doga can help to improve flexibility to reduce the risk of injury and increase core strength. If you want to try it out then you’ll need a pliant, small dog – attempting doga with a stubborn St Bernard is a great way to put your back out.
5. Canine agility – Back on planet Earth, canine agility is an ideal way to get fit and have fun with your dog. Training your dog to run a complicated obstacle course will improve your bond and help to increase the dog’s sense of discipline. Because you have to guide the animal around the course, you’ll get your heart rate going too.
6. Surfing – The internet is awash with videos of animals surfing, from dogs to pigs to goats and even the occasional cat. Is your pet a budding Kelly Slater? The only way to find out is to hit the beach, strap on a miniature buoyancy aid and hope for the best…
7. Skateboarding – Board-based fitness seems to be a favourite of the animal community. Skateboarding pets are very nearly as YouTube-friendly as furry surfers and as there’s no risk of drowning, it’s much safer to find out whether or not your pet has what it takes to shred the local skatepark.
Some of these exercises are more practical than others but there’s no doubt that having an active animal around is perfect motivation for your own fitness routine. Get out and about with your pet to start feeling the benefit.