There is nothing like the entreating looking of your pup to motivate you to get off the couch and get a little exercise. Of all the many ways our pups make our lives happier, helping us get active is one huge way that is often overlooked. All dogs need daily exercise – so really, you’ve got no excuse for lounging around all day. But while exercise is necessary to a dog’s health and wellness, up to 55 percent of dogs are overweight. This is a similar trend we are seeing in Americans as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70.7 percent of adults are overweight and 37.9 percent of those adults are obese. Knowing these facts, humans need to work with their dogs so both can lead healthy and happy lives together.

For Eric O’Grey, adopting a dog saved his life. At 300 pounds and with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, he was told that he only had a few years to live. O’Grey adopted a middle-aged dog to accompany him on his health and fitness journey. The two worked hard and improved their combined health together.

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Exercising with a dog can be one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do to improve your relationship. Both of you get the physical benefits, but by exercising together, you are deepening the bond you have with your dog and creating more one-on-one time for the two of you. If you’re looking to get out there with your pup, here are a few things you can try!

1. Take Your Dog for a Run

Many runners are motivated by their running buddy. We can say with confidence that there isn’t anything much more motivating than a dog all geared up for a run. Their happiness and bouncy behavior make suiting up for a run even more enticing. Plus, no matter how old your dog is, they still know how to turn on the puppy-dog-eyes charm. For people that are new to running, having your dog alongside you is a great way to ease into longer distances. You get to set the pace, but the inevitable bathroom breaks taken multiple times on your route give you little breaks here and there to help catch your breath, regroup and get back to it. When running with your dog, be sure to keep their breathing and pace in mind as well. Big dogs will have no problem keeping stride with you, but smaller dogs might struggle to keep up if they’re not used to running. Consider starting with a short, slow run and building up to get both you and your pup in the swing. It’s also important to be mindful of temperature, if it is too hot or cold, it can be harmful for you and your pup. Always be sure to carry water in the heat and consider getting protective footwear for your dog in the cold.

2. Do Sprint Training 

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Lots of runners mix sprints and interval training into their workouts to help with speed during races. If you run at one pace all the time, your body will adapt to the pace. Speedwork helps challenge the body differently. It mixes up training, is quick and the best part? You can bring a buddy along to keep you company. Speedwork is perfect for you and your dog and can be done anywhere that allows dogs. This is an especially good workout if your dog is better at doing short bursts of exercise as opposed to long, drawn out exercises – plus these are easy to fit into a busy day.

Get your dog’s favorite toy and throw it back and forth for them and try to keep up with their pace. For some dogs, all it takes is a little bit of excitement and encouragement for them to get into a sprinting mood and they’ll happily chase you back and forth. Just be mindful that they are on a leash in a public place or sprinting freely in an enclosed area – we all know that once our pups start running, they can become easily distracted and get tempted to chase squirrels or other people if they’re not watched carefully.

3. Go On a Weekend Hiking and Camping Trip

Hiking is an incredible way to get exercise no matter your fitness level. It offers beautiful scenery, fresh air and time to clear your mind. Schedule an entire afternoon or weekend to hike or camp with your dog. Be sure to pack the right clothing and equipment for your activity level, as well as water and snacks for you and your dog. Getting a secure harness for your dog and strong leash is important – remember, being in the woods means you’re on wildlife turf so keeping your pup on a leash is the best way to avoid any unwanted run-ins! Also be sure to check if the trail is dog-friendly before heading out – not all safe for furry friends. For more tips on hiking with your dog, click here.

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4. Take a Walk

The simplest thing you can do to get exercise for you and your dog is to go for ta walk. A lot of people don’t like running, and that’s OK. Walking one, two or three miles a day is a perfect amount of exercise for you and your dog. It challenges your body while relaxing your mind and gives you and your dog an activity you can look forward to doing together every day.

5. Go for a Casual Swim

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If your dog likes water, swimming is an activity you can both benefit from – even if you’re just playing around in the water. Just be sure to keep a good eye on your dog so you can tell when they start to get tired. It’s also a good idea to start your pup out in a pool or small pond to test their swimming skills before getting into larger bodies of water.  Bring a ball or Frisbee for some water catch, it’s also a good idea to invest in a doggie life jacket when swimming in the ocean or larger bodies of water. Swim side by side to get a simultaneous workout.

When you think about it, there are no downfalls of exercising with your dog. You both get the health benefits, there is always someone to keep you company and the activities help strengthen your relationship.

Lead image source: Garden State Hiker/Flickr