There are so many different ways you can get active, but it’s important to find out what works best for you. We all have different schedules, so we can’t make every fitness class. There are a lot of popular workouts that people love that I could care less for. And don’t get me started on the cost of some gyms. All of those factors can get discouraging. If you love a workout, you’re more likely to stick to it. I am very excited to partner up with Expedia.com for this post about turning my dog walks into a workout. Expedia.com also knows it’s important to keep up with your workouts wherever you are! I am also very lucky to live in Charlotte, NC, a city with so many many places to walk my dog.
I currently belong to zero gyms. I have access to the gym in my building, but use the outdoors way more. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars each month doing Zumba, spinning, barre or cross fit for weight loss, I walk my dogs. Back in 2011, I lost a lot of weight. People were constantly asking me how I did it and my answer was “eating healthy and walking.” I just walked everywhere. I walked to school, I walked my neighbors dog (I didn’t have Grumples or Tino yet) and I walked whenever I was bored. I would even take my play scripts out on my walks and try to memorize them.
There are so many benefits to turning walking your dog into a workout. Here are some of my favorites..
BENEFITS OF WALKING YOUR DOG FOR YOUR WORKOUT
- Healthier Dogs:
We all love our pups, and this makes them healthier, stronger, and increases their life expectancy by decreasing their chances of being overweight which leads to diseases, arthritis, or diabetes. Sometimes when I go to a workout class, my dog gets cheated out of his workout because I’m too tired. It’s always nice to hear the vet say “what a healthy dog.”
- Less Stressful Workout:
Walking puts less stress on your joints. It also decreases your chances of getting injured from overexerting yourself. When I was dealing with runner’s knee and achilles tendonitis, my doctor told me to just walk instead of run.
- Explore Your Surroundings
You get to explore new places and change up the scenery. I like to take my dog to different neighborhoods, parks, and trails. It beats working out on the same bike behind the treadmills at the gym.
- No Driving Involved:
You don’t have to drive to a gym or drive home from a gym. You can walk right out your front door and start walking. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve changed my mind about working out on the way to the gym several times before.
- You’ll Workout Harder:
This just may be my dog and his ability to walk pretty fast. You will typically increase your speed by walking your dog instead of walking alone.
- It’s a Pretty Social Workout:
It’s a great way to stay social on your workouts. We run into so many people with other dogs that want to stop and chat. I meet more people out on walks than in the gym.
- You Burn Calories:
You can burn up to 450 calories every hour you walk. That is 3150 calories a week which equals one pound of weight loss. Walking your dog every day with a healthy diet can help you shed three pounds a month and that is a healthy pace.
- Free Body Guards:
Not all of us are as rich as Mariah Carey and can afford body gaurds. Walking your dog gives you extra security. I always feel more safe when my dog walks on the trails with me. He knows when I’m scared and can read people’s intensions. He may look like a nice and fluffy dog, but don’t underestimate his bark. Although, I would recommended changing up your paths always!
- Fashion Free Pass:
You can wear whatever you want on a dog walk. You don’t need any special workout clothes, although I would recommend some comfortable shoes! I can keep the jeans on, throw on tennis shoes and head out! Imagine going to the gym with jeans on…the looks you’d get…
- Stronger Bond:
Walking your dog builds a stronger bond between the two of you. My dog trainer told me that walking my dog everyday will set the ground rules as to who the boss is. You have to be strict on your walks and use it as a way to train him and yourself. I have been working on my calmness when someone walks by. Bring treats to practice positive reinforcement.
- It’s Free:
No gym membership, no expensive workout clothes, no gas money spent, nothing! You just get out and go!
- It’s Therapeutic:
I like to listen to music on my walks and escape from the world for an hour. The fresh air, the endorphins from working out and the music is better than any therapist that would charge me a fortune. It allows you to simply think with no distractions. I come up with the best best ideas while I’m walking.
- The Calm After The Storm:
Working out your dog will calm them down and give you a bit more free time during the day. Our dogs will run around and hop all over the place and sometimes chew things when they’re bored or have way too much energy. After a walk, they sleep in peace until our second walk of the day.
- You Can Do It Anywhere:
You can walk your dog just about anywhere. When you go on vacation, you have to skip your daily workouts at the gym. When you’re on vacation with your dogs, you can walk them at the beach, on local trails, or around neighborhoods. You have no excuse to back out.
- Makes You More Responsible:
If you stick to a successful dog walking schedule, you will feel the guilt if you miss a day. You won’t feel guilty for yourself, but feel guilty for your dog. It’ll help you stay responsible and teach you how to stick to a schedule. You’ll have to put your dog first sometimes and learn to be responsible for others and not just yourself. It makes you less selfish.
Tips on how to turn walking your dog into a workout:
- Don’t Ignore Your Personal Trainer:
Your dog will become your personal trainer. They like schedules and will most likely let you know when it’s time for their walk. Try to stick to a schedule. I like to do my long walks in the morning and a short walk in the evening. My dog will wait by the door until I leash him up for our walk.
- Change Up The Scenery:
Changing the scenery will motivate you to stick to your new walking workout. It’ll become more exciting every time you explore a new path. The first couple of walks on your new trail may be a bit slower becuase your dog may want to sniff everything in the world. While your dog stops to sniff, jog in place to keep your heart rate going.
- Hills Are Your Best Friends:
You may not like hills, but they help build muscle, tone up those mushy spots, and increase your heart rate helping you burn fat. You’ll also burn more calories going uphill. I have a favorite walk that involves going up and down hills for an hour. It took me about a year to get used to the trail and now I don’t get too winded.
- Wear a Heart Rate Watch:
Wear a heart rate watch on your walks to make sure you’re working hard enough. It’ll motivate you to walk faster and longer. I like to see my heart rate going up and my calories burnt. I set a goal before I leave the house and do not come back until it’s completed.
- Keep Track of Your Walks:
I like to use a running/fitness app to keep track of my miles. I make sure to set goals and reach them each month. When I reach them, I set the goals higher the next month. It feels good to complete a goal. Also, use Charity Miles to put your walks to good use!
- Eat Healthy:
Eating healthy always keeps me on track with workouts. The healthier I eat, the better I feel and the more motivated I am to get out there and workout. You feed your dog the healthiest of food and treats, do the same for yourself.
- Weigh/Measure Yourself:
This one isn’t for everyone, but I stay on track when I measure myself and weigh myself once a week. I like to see progress because it motivates me to keep at the workout.
- Get A Dog Walking Buddy:
Having a buddy to workout with holds you accountable and you’re less likely to cancel. It’s also nice to have some company. I love walking the dogs with a friend. I’m sure your pup loves the company as well. I like to do this once a week.
- Bring Water on Your Walks:
The more hydrated you and your pup are, the better your walk will be. I’ve had to turn around and quit a couple of times because I thought my dog was too thirsty. Make sure to bring water for you and the pup so you can continue your workouts.
- Reward You and Your Dog After Every Walk:
This is great motivation to keep up the walks. I always give my dog a nice rub down and a treat. Treat yourself with a protein smoothie or a glass of wine later in the night.
I get asked by Charlotte locals all the time where they can take their dogs to walk. Here are some of my favorite spots…
Favorite Charlotte Spots to Take My Pup
- Reedy Creek Park:
They have tons of trails, a pond for your pup and an off leash dog park.
- Freedom Park:
This is a pretty busy park after 5pm, but I love taking the dogs here during the day. We like to circle around the pond, cross over the bridge and go through the hidden trails. They have beautiful creeks and doggy waste stations for your convenience.
- Mecklenburg County William R Davie Park:
This one is one of my favorites. It was an off leash dog park that is almost a mile long. They also have paths around the park to walk your dog. The dog park is shaded for hot summers and all fenced in.
- Ballantyne Corporate Park:
Corporate park in Ballantyne is super fancy and full of hills. It’s a great workout for you and the pup. The ponds and glass buildings are so peaceful. It’s also very calm and has little traffic.
- Crowder’s Mountain:
We love hiking the trails with our dogs and they end up pulling us all the way up the mountain. It’s nice and shaded. It’s busy on the weekends, but open on the weekdays.
- McAlpine Creek Greenway:
This place is beautiful. It has water, nature, and dirt paths to walk your pup. It beautiful in the fall.
- Queens Road:
Talk about a gorgeous scenery! There are beautiful old southern homes with the giant oaks that line the street. I never get sick of walking around this area. It’s also very safe.
- The Riverwalk Carolinas:
I do this with and without the pup. I like to run it by myself and walk it with my pup. It’s my all time favorite spot. It is a path that lines the Catawba river. It is shaded and filled with friendly walkers, bikers, and dogs. They are building this area up and it will soon be filled with restaurants and shopping places that you and your pup can explore together.
- Fort Mill Anne Springs Greenway:
Miles and miles of trails, peach trees, parks for your dog, a pond for your dog, and other activities. Getting a yearly pass to the Springs is beneficial for you and your pup!
- Park Road:
I love walking the dogs in and around Park Road. It goes on for miles and it’s very safe. There are places we can take the dogs to stop and have a drink along the road. If you head down Montford right off of Park, there are several dog bars!
Now if you will excuse me, it’s time to get out there and walk the dog!
I’d love to hear all about your dog walks! Tag me in your Instagram dog pics! @taralynnmcnitt