Exercise Options for Time Constrained Pet Owners
One of the seven habits of fit people and their dogs is that they are able to effectively manage their time so that no matter how busy their day might be, they are able to fit in their exercise. One way to accomplish this is to workout multiple times per day, but for shorter intervals of time.
Breaking Down Workouts into Shorter Sessions
Breaking down a dog’s workout into shorter sessions can ease some of the time constraints that many people have. As an example, if you would like to exercise your dog for 40 minutes a day, you could obviously accomplish this in one session probably – on most days. But what about those crazy days where a 40 minute chunk of time is just not available? Try breaking the 40 minutes into two, shorter sessions. Perhaps you can do 20 minutes first thing in the morning and another 20 minutes before dinner. Or 30 and 10 minutes. The key is that you maintain the total exercise time even if it takes you multiple sessions to get there.
This strategy of breaking apart workouts can absolutely lead to high levels of fitness and can offer some side benefits as well. Many years ago, my friends signed me up for the Marine Corp Marathon. At the time, I was running a fair amount, but had never run a race of any distance before. The training advice I received was focused on building high weekly mileage totals (which was daunting) and going for long runs during training, runs that would last 3-4 hours. For some reason, 3 plus hour training runs did not appeal to me. I just didn’t want to commit such a large chunk of time all at once. It would have required me to get up at a very early hour or run later in the night, and in both cases, darkness would be an issue. Instead of running all at once, I broke my runs down to smaller chunks. During the week, I ran three times per day. In the morning (I ran to work), at lunch, and in the evening (I ran home). This made the high mileage weeks easier to deal with. Low and behold, the training worked as I was able to complete the marathon in 3:12. Unwittingly, I discovered a different way of training that not only is easy on the schedule, but also can provide other benefits.
Benefits of Shorter, Multiple Workouts
It was very apparent during my marathon training that shorter, multiple workouts was a smart strategy. Some of the benefits include:
- Less wear and tear on the body. Breaking up a workout is less strenuous on the body because it has a chance to ‘rest’ in between the sessions. Unlike many of my friends who has assorted injuries leading up to the race, I was injury free.
- More enthusiasm for the end of the workouts. With smaller workouts, it is easier to hold onto a higher level of intensity and concentration when compared to longer sessions that are mentally and physically draining.
- No excuses to miss your target. There are just some days where we don’t have large blocks of time to exercise. Smaller sessions enable you to stick to your plan and reach your goals.
Shorter Workouts with your Dog
When planning your dog’s exercise routines, keep in mind that shorter, multiple sessions are a fantastic way to keep them fit, even when you are time constrained. Some of the keys to making this strategy effective include:
- Don’t skip the warmup. No matter how much time you have to exercise your dog, make sure that they are properly warmed up before they engage in strenuous activities. Walking to start a run or some mobilization and stretching before strength training are smart ways to warm up.
- Be prepared. Know what you are planning to do before you start the workout. If you have a plan, you won’t waste precious minutes thinking about what to do. This applies mostly when performing drills and other ‘skills’ based exercises with your dog (e.g. agility, core or balance work).
- Utilize lunch time if possible. If you are lucky enough to work close to home, lunch can be fantastic time to squeeze in a workout with your dog. You can always eat at your desk when you are done. As an added benefit, mid-day workouts can help to energize you which can result in a sharper mind and greater productivity in the afternoon.