Getting fit takes regular exercise—emphasis on regular—which can be difficult to work into a busy schedule. Sometimes the spare time just isn’t there. The key is to look at the activities you already do, and get creative with them to find easy ways to exercise.
For the perfect opportunity to work out, look no further than your daily dog walk. Not only can you build strength, but you also have an exercise buddy who’s always in the mood to get moving. Here are eight easy ways to exercise right in the middle of your current dog-walking routine.
Choose Challenging Terrain
Before heading out, look up a topographical map of your area; you can try MyTopo, or set a Google satellite image to display elevation. Then plan a route that takes you up, down, and up again as you walk.
Much like the incline feature on a treadmill, topographical pitch increases the intensity of your workout so you’ll burn more calories without adding time or distance to the walk. Hills work large muscle groups, particularly within your quadriceps. To target the joints and smaller supportive ligaments, however, you might take up the offroad hiking trail through the woods for the best climbs, instead of the same old pavement in your neighborhood.
Add resistance to your movement by bringing free weights with you. Simply keep a dumbbell in your free hand—alternating hands every block—or wear weighted ankle cuffs to make even a slow pace more beneficial. This will burn more calories per step, increasing your workout without adding time to your walk.
Keep an exercise band in your pocket while you walk. When your dog slows down to mark territory or sniff a passing canine, take advantage of the slowdown to work your upper body.
Slip the middle of the band behind your upper back so the ends of the band are under your arms. Grasp each end with a hand, and one at a time, stretch the band straight out in front of you with a slow, controlled punch. Researchers at Harvard Medical University put together a short video to show you exactly what this looks like. The best part? The exercise works both your upper body and legs.
The purpose of your dog’s daily outing is exercise, but it’s also his time to do his duty. While you wait, avoid the temptation to relax. Practice a standing yoga pose, working your way from these starter poses to more advanced, challenging positions to build strength. Add difficulty to your favorite poses by holding them longer than the day before.
Jockey for Position
If you’re constantly reminding your kids to sit up straight, remember to take your own advice. Focus on your stance throughout the walk by flexing your glutes and keeping your tummy tucked in with your back straight. Relax your shoulders and neck, lifting your chin straight up so that it’s parallel with the ground and pulling your chest toward the sky. It may sound simple, but maintaining this position as you walk strengthens your core and burns more calories, according to famous cardiologist Dr. Oz.
Add a block to your distance every week, but don’t allow for more time. This way, you can make it a goal to get back home at the same time as you did with last week’s shorter distance. It’ll put a hustle in your bustle for sure, burning fat by elevating your heart rate.
Jog when you can—your dog will love it, don’t worry, but keep an eye on your canine friend when stopping at an intersection. If yours is old one like mine, though, jog in half-mile increments to be sure he’s not overworking himself (especially in warm temperatures). Between these short bursts of cardio the pace may slow down, but you don’t have to. Instead, perform lunges, as Mayo Clinic demonstrates, while Fido walks to cool off.
Share Your Success
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sharing your exciting exercise routine—or even joining others in their own—makes you more likely to stick with it, solidifying your results. So, snap a selfie while you’re working out with your dog and tweet it to @TomsofMaine and the rest of your followers. The longer you maintain your new exercise habits, the more benefits you’ll see.
You have to walk your dog anyway, so why not seize the opportunity to build strength each day? These are easy ways to exercise that don’t require a change of clothes, a gym membership, or special training. In fact, you don’t even need to squeeze it into your schedule, since the leash and morning alarm are already set.
Image source: Flickr | Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.