Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Importance of Rest
Before we get to our post for today, we wanted to wrap-up our Summer 2014 K9Kamp and say how much fun it was to learn about all the different Backyard Fitness & Games you play with your dogs. We had a great turnout for Kamp with lots of different activities. Hooray for K9Kampers! We hope you all keep up the great fitness work and we look forward to seeing you in January.
Today we continue our “Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs” series. Thus far, we have written about having fun with fitness and the importance of variety when exercising. Today’s tip is about the importance of rest.
If you read my posts on a regular basis, you know that I enjoy exercising and staying fit. In my opinion, rest is one of the hardest things for me to incorporate into my weekly workout plans. My typical idea of rest is a 5 mile run. Heck, rest has always been a “four letter word” to me. Even worse, I have always had trouble relaxing and sitting still or quiet. But as I have observed my dogs over the years, I have started to recognize the value of rest and stillness as it relates to overall fitness and on field performance.
One of the most astute experts on rest, and the dog that has taught me the most about it, is Maggie. Maggie is a fearful (but improving) breeder mom that we rescued two years ago. Among her many quirky behaviors is an ability to flop on the floor, in virtually any position, and rest or sleep. Sometimes I wonder just how she is able to rest or sleep given the way her body is contorted in such strange ways. Yet, it seemed to me that she might be onto something as she has this uncanny ability to chill at a moment’s notice virtually anywhere.
This Fitness Tip Hits Home
Over the past 12 months or so, Maggie’s lessons have started to sink in to my hard headed brain. About 3 years ago, I started to practice yoga on a fairly regular basis. One of the hardest postures for me is the savasana, also known as dead body pose, where you are required to let go of all the tension in the body and completely relax on the ground for 20 seconds or more. But this pose has improved a lot for me since we adopted Maggie. As I enter the pose, I have often found myself picturing (in my mind) Maggie flopped on the floor with not a single muscle tense and the floor completely supporting her body. Which is exactly the idea of savasana!
Value of Rest in a Fitness Program
Without proper rest and recovery, the body can be more susceptible to injury and poor performance. Learn from Maggie and incorporate rest into you and your dog’s fitness routines. Try these tips and see if you feel better and stronger after a few weeks.
Schedule Rest Days: Scheduling rest days can be crucial to allow your or your dog’s body time to heal and regenerate from the hard workouts you do. The experts are mixed on the timing, but most recent research that I have found supports the notion of a rest day on the day before your toughest workout.
Try Active Rest: Active rest is probably my favorite type of rest because it allows you to keep moving without stressing the body too much. A good example of active rest is incorporating cross training days into the schedule. Try a light weight workout on your days off from running. Or take your dog for a slower paced walk on their non-running days. Just make sure that the exercise is low intensity.
Learn Savasana: As Maggie has taught me, there is great benefit to the body and mind from just letting go and completely relaxing. Even short duration savasanas, lasting just seconds, or minutes, can provide a dose of rest and relaxation to the body and sharpen the mind. Try a Maggie style savasana one or two times during the work day as a quick break and as a way to recharge. Or, if you are like me, go for a short run first and then try a savasana!