You make plans to meet your friend for a walk—and she cancels. Your husband says he’ll do an exercise video with you—and he bails. Sometimes fitness buddies’ flake, which may deflate your workout motivation. You know who won’t come up with an excuse for skipping home exercises? Your uber-reliable, four-legged, furry best friend!
Staying active with exercises at home can be tough, especially during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the times of social distancing and self-isolation we are living in. However, regular physical activity is an important part of your weight loss journey.
Nutrisystem experts recommend 30 minutes of activity each day—and research suggests your canine companion can help you do just that! According to Scientific Reports, one study found that dog owners are four times more likely to meet recommended exercise guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, when compared those who don’t have a dog.
Here are six home exercises that you can do with your dog:
1. Pound the pavement.
Brisk walking is an excellent workout for you and your pooch for many reasons. In humans, walking can help with weight loss, improve mood and strengthens bones and muscles, says Mayo Clinic. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, it can also keep your dog’s joints healthy and promote positive mental and emotional health. Plus, when walking with your dog, you may not only walk longer, but you may also move a little faster: One study, published in BMC Public Health, found that dog owners walked on average 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog. They also walked briskly at a “moderate intensity cadence” and got their heart rates up.
2. Lunge (with a paw).
If toned legs are a goal of yours during your wellness and weight loss journey, then the lunge is your move. Even in its most basic form, it targets multiple muscle groups in your legs and works your glutes, while strengthening your core. This is how to do a forward lunge. > However, you can also do the same move in reverse, which places less stress on your knees and can engage your pooch.
Women’s Health Magazine recommends getting your dog in on this great home workout. Have your dog sit as you stand in front of him or her. Then take one large step back, lowering your hips until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure your knee stays directly above your front ankle. While you’re down in this position, ask your dog to give you their paw to “shake” (or just pet their head if they haven’t yet mastered that skill). Then return to return to start position and repeat on the other side.
3. Have a doggie dance party.
Dancing is a great way burn some calories when the weather isn’t suited for walking. Just crank up your favorite upbeat tunes and let loose in your living room or backyard! 30 minutes of disco dancing can burn about 244 calories in a 185-pound person, says Harvard Health. You can also try a fun dance workout video.
No doubt your pet will join in on the dancing action—running between and around your legs so you both get in a little cardio workout at home, says Fetch by WebMD. And if your four-legged partner shows some real rhythm, you might look into competitive canine freestyle—yes, it exists. According to the Canine Freestyle Federation, this team activity involves dog and human duos performing choreographed dance routines.
Music has an amazing impact on weight loss! Check out this helpful wellness article on The Leaf and see what expert research says regarding your music selection and burning extra calories.
4. Squat and play.
Shape Magazine suggests using a variation on the classic squat to workout with your pooch. We’ve adjusted it slightly but it should still get your heart pumping. Step one: Grab your pet’s favorite treat or toy, then prepare to squat while playing with your pooch!
When performing a classic squat, stand up straight with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and toes slightly turned out, says The American Council on Exercise. Now here comes the fun! Hold the doggie toy out in front of you with both hands. Tighten your core, and shift your hips back as you squat down, bringing the toy down for your dog to see. Then stand back up, bringing the toy up with you. Your dog gets a little exercise jumping or reaching for the toy, while you tone up with these home exercises.
Here are more toning workouts from the fitness section of The Leaf! >
5. Play ‘active’ fetch.
Whether you’re tossing a ball in the yard or a favorite toy across the den, there’s no reason to sit still while your dog retrieves it. Fetch by WebMD recommends adding some workouts in-between each throw. Try doing some jumping jacks, high knees or crunches while you wait.
6. Wall-sit with your pup.
This quad-burning move might burn a little more when your dog gets involved. With your back and hips flat against a wall, slowly walk your feet out and lower yourself to a sitting position, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, says Women’s Health Magazine. If your dog is small, hold them while you wall sit. If you have a bigger dog breed, have them put their paws on your lap for added resistance.
*Always speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.