Exercise Options for Time Constrained Pet Owners

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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.

Manage your time

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.


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  1. mid-day workouts are great and I had no clue that they have such good side effects… we should carry on to do more at mid-day, that could be helpful for my staff lol :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog SHOP TILL YOU DROPMy Profile

  2. Those long training runs are not real fun…ask Mom who has done them many times when doing marathon training. We do multiple trainings a day, walking, running, playing, working on exercises. It is a time commitment, but it is easier to fit in smaller chunks than a big block for sure.
    Emma recently posted…Fitness For Senior Dogs With ArthritisMy Profile

  3. Hi Y’all!

    If you’ve ever been through rehab from open heart you know that they have warm up exercises from which even the most frail can benefit. Many of them are available on the internet if you search post op open heart exercises.

    Walking and biking as well as rowing are exercises given in heart rehab. One of those watches that watch your heart rate are a good thing to wear too.

    Gradually increase the time you exercise as you recoup from being locked indoors for the winter. When training performance horses there is a rule of thumb: for every week off, it takes 2 weeks to get back to previous fitness. Allow yourself the same.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Flashback to Fractured FitnessMy Profile

  4. Excellent advice! I don’t plan on running a marathon but just getting out there and doing small amounts is still beneficial.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Blind Retrieves In Snow~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  5. The other great part about shorter sessions with pups is that they’ll be more engaged and focus than they would over a single extended session.

  6. Great tips and advice! It has been so cold out that we are outside for shorter periods of time but more frequently if that makes any sense! 🙂
    Golden Daily Scoop recently posted…We Have an Announcement!!My Profile

  7. Lots of short walks for me in Florida this week. Grabbed a few minutes at breakfast and lunch every day. Have a great weekend.

  8. Now that the weather is better, I’ve been walking to most of my close-by errands which is nice because Mr. N gets exercised and the errands get done!
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…FitDog Friday #65 – Crime Scene Blocked OffMy Profile

  9. I usually try to commit one longer session, like 30 to 60 minutes and then one or two shorter sessions that are like 10 to 30 minutes. It’s not a big deal with Ace who doesn’t need a lot of exercise, but our foster dog Lana requires an hour at a minimum, and that takes planning on my part. But 90 minutes all at once is too much for me most days, so we break it up.
    Lindsay recently posted…That Mutt Life: What We’ve Been Up To – FebruaryMy Profile

  10. I think the thought that one does not have enough time to exercise is an easy way for us to lose motivation. I know when we do some quick games of tug or chase we both seem to get a lot out of it. A serious 5 minute game of tug is seriously tiring. It’s so nice to know that you don’t have to set aside a full hour; you can get lots of little bits of activity throughout the day and end up benefiting.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…How to Increase Your Dogs Focus & Impulse ControlMy Profile

  11. I am very lucky because my mom has lots of time to walk me! But this is great advice and we know it works. Your marathon training is what they teach here for the Chicago marathon also. Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Rhette’s #PerfectWeight a 10-Week TurnaroundMy Profile

  12. Very valuable advice that even the busiest of people can incorporate into their hectic lifestyles. The same goes for (trick-)training ~ breaking up training into as short as 5 minutes sessions are not only doable from a time perspective, but they also make training more interesting & keep things fun!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Does Fido Exhibit Problem Behaviors? Keep Him Fit Mentally!My Profile

  13. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to Steve for taking the time to help me with a routine for Sydney. One thing that really stood out was the advice to break down her exercise sessions into 10 minutes each. This is easy to do, I always have time, and it’s simple to keep her attention and keep her moving. Thank you.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Serendipitous Saturday | Obsessive Dog Owners Start Out as NerdsMy Profile

  14. Harley (and I) actually do so much better with multiple yet short exercise sessions. We’re walking more. Not necessarily farther but definitely faster. It’s a process and I am grateful for these Slimdoggy posts.

  15. I think it can lead to more time exercising too. When the weather is nicer, I sometimes split up our workouts, and I think that often leads to more overall time. For example, instead of doing one 30 minute session, we might do two 20 minute ones. So now we’re doing 40 minutes instead of 30.
    Jan K recently posted…Look Who’s Playing – Black & White SundayMy Profile

  16. Those are great tips. I know that I find it hard to make the time for myself.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Surprise Your Pet With Surprise My Pet–Review And Discount CodeMy Profile

  17. Excellent advice as always my friend!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Get your paws on this deal!My Profile

  18. Great tips was in need of running workout, thank you!

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