Feeling the effects of the holiday meals, parties and treats? You’re not alone. Seems like every other commercial is about a diet plan, health club or exercise equipment – and with good reason. We are carrying extra weight and looking for a healthy solution to shed the pounds. But the answer might be right under our noses, and many times right under our feet.


Instead of joining an expensive health club, which you may or may not stick to, why not reach for the leash and get outside with your pooch. After all, they’ve probably eaten an overabundance of leftovers during the holidays and could use the exercise as well.

The Buddy System

Workout experts recommend having a workout buddy is key to maintaining accountability in your workout schedule. And what better buddy to have than your sweet pooch looking at you with his begging eyes and wagging tail.

When we are pulled in so many directions during the day, it’s very easy to just want to veg out when we get home. But a walk with your dog will help you maintain your mental health by reducing the dangerous stress toxins, help maintain your weight and strengthen your muscle tone. Destressing at the end of a hard day will also lead to a better night’s sleep.

Tips for Success

Walking may seem easy enough, but if you haven’t been exercising regularly, you may need to ease into your routine. You’ll want to work up to walking a 15-20 minute mile. If your dog has any physical limitations or is a senior, you may want to discuss your fitness plans with your vet first.

Some tips to make your daily walk a success:

  • Start with shorter walks and gradually work into longer exercise sessions. Three 10-minute walks are just as beneficial as one 30-minute walk.
  • Start at a slower walking pace and work up to a faster speed.
  • Keep an erect posture – shoulders back and relaxed, look ahead, chest lifted and butt tucked in.
  • Your dog should be on a short leash close to your side to maintain control and discourage them from stopping and sniffing at every tree.
  • For dogs that are learning not to pull, look for a “gentle leader” head collar. When they pull ahead, it lowers their snoot so they end up looking down at the ground, a position they don’t like. They’ll learn to back up so they can look straight ahead.
  • Pay attention to your walking pattern to prevent injury. Your heel should hit the ground first, then roll to the ball of your foot and push off with your toes.
  • Bring enough water for you and your dog.
  • If walking at night, use a reflective collar and leash for your dog and get reflective clothes and shoes for yourself.

Start the year off right by making a commitment to yourself and your dog. You will both get the benefits of a good, consistent exercise routine, and it will strengthen the bond between you as a bonus.

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