Benefits of Trail Running with Your Dog
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.
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 RunningPlease enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!