Dog Fitness: Working Out for Change

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Happy New Year to everyone. How many of you have made a fitness related resolution? Resolving to get in shape is a very common theme around the start of the new year, and it seemed an appropriate time to write about the final “C” in our 6 Cs Pyramid approach to fitness: Change.

 

Our “6 C’s Pyramid” for fitness provides a framework upon which a lifestyle fitness program can be created. Once you and your dog have mastered the 1st level (convenience, cross training, and common sense), your workouts take shape and you will become more consistent with an exercise program.   As you build a habit of consistent (if not daily) exercise, you and your dog can start to develop increased capability, which will in turn lead to increased activity and health, which leads to the end result: change.

 

Consistent Exercise Will Change You and Your Dog

I don’t know of a single person who started an exercise program, for themselves or their dog, just because they ‘felt like it’. Everyone I know has begun their fitness journey because they want to change themselves and/or their dog. The wonderful thing about consistent exercise is that it WILL result in change, for the better, over time. Let’s take a look at some of the changes that can take place, both for the human and the canine athlete, when fitness becomes a part of the daily routine.
change_2015
 

Improved body composition: Appearance wise, our bodies respond to exercise. Consistent exercise means more muscle and less fat for you and your dog.

 

Increased strength: Using and building your muscles will result in a stronger body. Both you and your dog will benefit from increased strength not only in your workouts, but in the day to day activities in your life.

 

Increased endurance: Our bodies will respond to endurance training similarly to how they respond to strength training. They will become more efficient and thus, our endurance will improve. Greater endurance will also help us not just when we are exercising, but also in our everyday life in the form of more energy.

 

Improved mood: We have written several times about the endocannabinoid effect of exercise. This form of runner’s high makes us feel good, and coupled with the inherent stress relieving benefit of exercise can improve our moods and overall outlook on life. And don’t forget that dogs, like humans, are able to feel this runner’s high from exercise. Which is one of the reasons why well exercised dogs are more often than not well behaved dogs.

 

Greater confidence: With improved fitness comes improved confidence. I see it in both humans and dogs. Our fearful dog Maggie has made tremendous progress conquering her fears in large part due to a regular and rigorous exercise routine. People also tend to feel more confident when they look and feel better.

 

Reduced disease risk: Study after study has shown that regular exercise can lower the risk of disease. For example, keeping fit can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and even some forms of cancer. The same is true for dogs.   As we have written about in the past, fit dogs will live almost 2 years, or 15% longer lives than overweight dogs. Enough said.

 

With all of these positive changes that can result from regular exercise, I often wonder why more people aren’t more active and why so many dogs are overweight. My guess is it has something to do with the fact that all of these changes take time to occur. Many people expect instant gratification and if a few days of exercise doesn’t change their (or their dog’s) appearance in a noticeable way, than they quickly become discouraged and fall back to old (and unhealthy) habits.

 

Perhaps practicing patience is a viable 2015 fitness resolution.  Let’s become more patient, and give our fitness initiatives the time they need to help us change our bodies, our minds, and our lives?
 

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26 Comments

  1. Happy New Years Y’all!

    Great way to start the New Year! Be active! A dog’s dream!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…What I Got for Christmas!My Profile

  2. Here I thought by change you meant people would watch me and drop some coins in a bucket or something 😉 Activity is our life, Mom is crabby if we don’t get her out and exercise several times a day, and we doggies love it too. Great post!
    Emma recently posted…Staying Fit In The WinterMy Profile

  3. I need to get started on this plan along with Nellie!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~The PullerMy Profile

  4. We will join the “fit team” too… Santa brought too much calories (what a mean gift, huh?)
    easyweimaraner recently posted…easyblog MY NEW YEARS PAWTYMy Profile

  5. I felt like this post spoke straight to me. I definitely need to step it up this year! Thanks for posting this!
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…Happy New Year & Vacay RecapMy Profile

  6. Great motivational ideas to help keep the New Year’s resolutions on track. Haley still needs to lose one or two pounds to get to her ideal weight, but we’re really close! 🙂
    Elaine recently posted…2015 New Year’s Resolutions for Your DogMy Profile

  7. I think you are very right that people want to see instant changes, and lose patience when that doesn’t happen. We didn’t make any new fitness resolutions this year, other than to just keep trying and working at it. I feel pretty good about how we did over the last year, even though I know we can improve….there’s always room for improvement, that’s for sure!
    We are still trying to get Luke to lose a couple of pounds for his knees sake and haven’t seen that yet, but we are not giving up….we know it just means we have to change something a little bit still.
    Jan K recently posted…FitDog Friday – Getting Back to NormalMy Profile

  8. I thinking getting fit with your dog is a wonderful resolution. I am not big on making resolutions though as I tend to fail them if I do. But having something in my mind and just doing it…..that’s how I roll BOL!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…5 FAVS from 2014My Profile

  9. Here you go messing with my conscience again 🙂 I am going to put forth great effort working with Harley BOL therefore I guess I’ll be working on myself as well!

  10. Love this! It’s so important for both the dog and owner to get an adequate amount of exercise per day. I have found that taking daily walks really helps everyone get in the proper amount of exercise needed. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  11. We’re going to do a post soon on Taffy’s weight loss, you should see her! We’ll be the two fittest dogs in the new year thanks to you! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Dolly’s New StickMy Profile

  12. I want to try to get a bike this year and I’m planning on teaching Mr. N how to jump rope at some point!

  13. I hope to find time to get out for more walks. Really cannot blame the weather this year.

    I have been meaning to ask what you changed with your comments? Did you make us subscribers or something?
    2browndawgs recently posted…Our Seniors Hunt TogetherMy Profile

  14. I couldn’t agree more. Patience is what is needed. I love riding my mtn bike but I hate doing core and upper body strength exercises. But, my PT told me, straight up, not to expect to see changes from strength training for 8 weeks. That started me out in the right frame of mind, and I’ve now stuck with the program since early last summer. Of course, my dogs don’t do strength training but they do a lot of running and playing while I mtn bike!
    KB recently posted…Keeping the FocusMy Profile

    • Strength training is pretty essential for overall fitness so I’m glad your PT person told you that. We have some strength training exercises for the pups on the site if you’re interested – just search fro ‘strength’.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Fitness: Working Out for ChangeMy Profile

  15. We are getting healthier every day. Bentley has lost 3 lbs and I have lost…well, more than that. ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…It’s a Whole New YearMy Profile

  16. Patience, discipline, & consistency are our pack’s key elements in staying fit & healthy! Great post!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Those Paws Were Made For Walking…#walkyourpetmonthMy Profile

  17. Great way to start the year! Happy New Year!

  18. I think you’re right – so many folks just want a ‘quick fix’ and give up if they don’t see improvements right away. It’s so important to just make fitness part of the regular routine and not a ‘chore’ that needs to be done. That’s why everyone needs to find what they enjoy doing!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…A Resolution Your Dog Can Help You KeepMy Profile

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