America is facing a pretty substantial obesity epidemic. With over 68 percent of adults currently considered overweight, health education and daily exercise are more important than ever. But what about our pets? How are they doing in all this?
Unfortunately, not so well. According to CBS News, roughly 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats in the U.S. currently meet or exceed the criteria to be considered overweight, meaning the national obesity epidemic is trickling down to our beloved pets.
However, there are ways for both humans and our pets to overcome it together.
For many, exercising is not a very pleasurable undertaking. On the other hand, many dog and cat breeds simply love staying active. Exercising with a go-with-the-flow partner who is enthusiastic about it can help us stay motivated and make the experience a bit more enjoyable overall. In other words, burning calories with a pet in tow is a usually win-win situation.
Want to exercise with your pet? Here are some great ways for any pet owner to shed a few pounds, all the while spending time with their furry exercise partner:
Don’t Just Walk…Run
Of course, going for a walk is better than nothing…but running? Now that will really burn off the calories! Even the laziest dogs have an inherent desire to get out and explore, and doing so almost always kickstarts that adrenaline. That being the case, taking your dog out for a nice run (or just incorporating a few minutes of running into your daily walks) will work wonders over time. Just remember to stop when your dog shows signs of tiredness, especially if it isn’t used to this level of physical exertion. Everyone needs a break—including dogs!
Put Those Stairs To Use
Just like going for a run, this might be a bit easier with a dog than with a cat (unless you have a very cooperative cat). Regardless, stairs are one of the best ways to get your daily dose of cardio. They’re also a surefire way to let your dog release all that pent-up energy as it engages a range of different muscles not used during walks or runs. All it takes is a couple of repetitions up and down before you’ll find both yourself and your pet winded in the best way possible. And who doesn’t love a workout routine that is as effective as it is short? Try identifying stairs in or around your home to begin climbing regularly.
Old Toys—New Ways To Play
Everyone knows how to get a cat going, whether it’s with a laser pointer, a motorized mouse or a piece of string dangling in the air. Take it step further by finding ways to burn off your own calories instead of idly watching the antics play out in front of you. There are tons of creative ways to stay active while entertaining and exercising your cat. Try doing wall sits during laser sessions or dragging the string behind you all across your home. Before you know it, you’ll be running circles around the house with that string and whipping your cat into an even bigger frenzy than before. Dedicate 10-15 minutes each day (or 40 to 60 minutes total) engaging your cat in this intensified version of playtime. You’ll feel great knowing you’re getting some physical activity in while also sharing quality time with your feline friend.
Some dogs get so excited when they’re out and about with leashes on, you start to wonder if they’re the ones taking you for a walk. If keeping pace with your pup is an issue, try biking or cycling alongside him or her instead of just walking. You can maintain a moderate speed, which will allow your dog to sprint lightly, speed up or stop whenever it needs to, all while you get a great cardio workout on your bike. Rollerskates, inline skates, skateboards and scooters are also wheeled-alternatives to try out with your dog. Regardless of how you get around, remember to wear a helmet and use caution while working out in this manner.
Whether you’re a yoga fanatic or a curious newbie, incorporating your favorite furry companions into this therapeutic practice will surely make it even more enticing. It might sound silly at first, but it’s actually becoming an increasingly popular practice to do so—and it’s effective, too! There are many ways to let your pets in on the fun. For example, you physically move your dog or cat into different postures, or gently use them as delicate yoga props. It’s as effective and beneficial for dogs and cats as it is for humans, and it’s a relaxing way to teach obedience and patience to the more rambunctious types.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Tug Of War
It’s a classic for a reason. Unlike fetch, where the dog usually does the bulk of the running around, a rigorous game of tug of war will keep you as engaged and energized as your canine competitor. And with such a large amount of ropes and toys to choose from, there’s no reason not to get on your feet and start a game ASAP!
These are just a few of the easier ways to get started with your brand new human/pet exercise regimen. Remember, getting started is always the hardest part, but over time, it will become second nature—especially when you start seeing results. Plus, what’s better than maintaining the health of you and your most beloved pets? After all, at the end of the day, that is the ultimate goal.