Benefits of Trail Running with Your Dog

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Running with my dogs is one of my favorite things to do. Working up a sweat (or pant) together and bonding through the experience, releasing the endocannabinoids and endorphins, staying fit and mobile, and burning some extra calories are all some of the reasons I love it so much. We are very fortunate to have close access to trails and parks, so most of our running is on softer and more interesting surfaces. Without question, this type of “off road” environment is more enjoyable for me and my dogs. It turns out that there are many benefits to trail running with your dog many of which are backed by research. Here are some of my favorites.

 

Trail running improves brain health and mood

There is something about being out in the open, in nature, that allows me and my dogs to enjoy our runs more when we are on the trails. Besides the fact that the dogs are allowed more leniency when it comes to being off leash, the smells and sights sharpen the running experience for all of us. As reported in Runners World, a 1996 study showed that negative ions, which are invisible air molecules released by trees, can increase oxygen flow to the brain and alleviate seasonal depression as effectively as Prozac or Zoloft.

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Trail running burns more calories than road running

By their very nature, trails and grassy surfaces are more unstable than are tracks and pavements. Thus, the body needs to compensate for the relative instability by using muscles to remain upright and stay balanced. Furthermore, the soft surfaces require a little extra effort to move through. The result is that you and your dogs are likely to burn more calories on a trail than on the pavement. One study reported that trail runners can burn as much as 12% more calories when compared to when running on a regular surface.

 

Trail running is less stressful on the joints and can reduce injury risk

The softer surfaces of grass and trails have another obvious benefit: they are less likely to cause injury due to the shock forces associated with running. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that when compared with asphalt or concrete, running on grass produces up to 17 percent less pressure on the feet, which is a significant reduction of the total impact and stress that is placed on your body while running.

 

Trail running will activate your core and stabilizer muscles more than road running

As previously mentioned, running on unstable surfaces requires your body to activate the core and stabilizer muscles to keep in balance and in proper running form. This can result in a stronger core and better balance even when you are off the trails.

 

All in all, trail running has a lot of benefits for you and your dog. Go ahead and mix in some trail runs into your routine. Your dogs and your body will thank you for it.

 

Next: Tips for Safe Trail Running

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19 Comments

  1. Trail running is definitely more interesting. Some of our runs are part trail, part road, but to really run only trails we have to drive somewhere, so we don’t do that much. You also have to watch out for stuff on the trail to stumble on. With accident prone mom, we have to be extra careful.
    Emma recently posted…Inside Advanced Nose Work ClassMy Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!

    My Humans do everything they can to avoid pavement of any description, even for just walkin’…

    Y’all come on by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Take Advantage of Every Moment and FLY!!!My Profile

  3. I agree with you and I bet my knees and my joints will send that :o) btw: what kind of shoes are the best for trail running? common running shoes or better walking shoes with a special sole?
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog FREAKY FRIDAYMy Profile

  4. Great information, we don’t have to many trails around here to run on, in bigger towns they have trails but they are paved along the highway.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Birthday Jolly BallMy Profile

  5. Trails are the only place I run or jog.
    I am not a fan of jogging through the city, I suppose it is a bit of self consciousness on my part, but I don’t like jogging through hoards of people, and with my huskies it is hard to do anyways! BOL!
    So it is great to learn all of the benefits that go with it!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Parading deals and toys for pups!My Profile

  6. We do a lot of fast walking, but every time a jogger passes us on a trail, Haley picks up her pace and then looks up at me with a grin that suggests “Why don’t we do that?” I may have to take up jogging one of these days! 🙂
    Elaine recently posted…Tips for a Holiday Road Trip with Your DogMy Profile

  7. Couldn’t agree more. If there was only place I could run with my pups it would be on the trails. Peaceful, beautiful scenery, low impact and plenty of room to stretch our legs.

  8. My knees are so bad I can’t run at the moment, but Kilo and I enjoy a good walk and a little sprint at the end. In fact, we’re off for one right now. Happy FF and have a great weekend X Susie

  9. When we see runners on the trail, Blueberry looks up at me and I look down at her and say, “Don’t get any ideas”. 😉 Between her bad hips and my various health issues, we will sometimes do short jogs (does 500 feet count?) but mostly we stick to a slower pace unless B spots prey – then we do the speed walking on the trail.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Will There Be Mischief?My Profile

  10. Even though we don’t run, we prefer adventuring on trails, too. They are much more interesting!
    Beth recently posted…The Home StretchMy Profile

  11. Looking good on the trail SlimDoggy Pack! We love trail running!
    DogTread recently posted…First Dog! – First Treadmill Lameness DetectionMy Profile

  12. Thanks! Looking forward to the tips! I hope you will make recommendations for length of run-time, and take into account dog size (for little weenies like me)! We would really love your recommendations for when we go!
    Gilligan recently posted…Over the River and Through the Woods – Epic Walk!My Profile

  13. I’ve tried it with Harley & Leo before, Leo was truly into it, but Harley just stops entirely too many times to sniff and pee on EVERYTHING!
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…RUHA LEATHERMy Profile

  14. We love to run or walk or both on a trail. It’s doesn’t even feel like you’re running when your in that kind of environment! Just got some new trail shoes I need to go try out too!

  15. I love when I can take my dog for a run or hike where he can be off leash. It’s just so relaxing for me and more enjoyable for him. It’s one of my favorite things to do actually. I’m glad there are places nearby where we can do this as well.
    Lindsay recently posted…Should I correct my dog for growling?My Profile

  16. Trails are always more interesting than pavement in our book!
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Gift Ideas Just In Time For ChristmasMy Profile

  17. What would the impact be on dogs if they ran on a human track (running tracks)? The local school here lets the neighborhood use it but I also don’t know if his nails would stress the surface too much.

    • The track surface would be fine. Many track athletes wear spikes so I doubt that Mr. N would do any damage.

      But it could be pretty boring, running around in circles (ovals) over and over again.
      steve recently posted…Possession is Nine-tenths of the LawMy Profile

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