A key element to living a healthy lifestyle is simply getting in some form of exercise that is enough to raise your heart rate and which is typically recommended to be 30 minutes per day. It doesn’t sound hard, but for some reason, sometimes getting in 30 minutes of heart pumping exercise is the last thing you want to do. If you’re tired, injured, bored, indifferent, frustrated, too busy, or any number of other excuses we can conjure up, there is one thing that will almost always bring motivation–the unconditional loving eyes and happily wagging tail of a four-legged friend.
My furry pal is Murphy Brown, a chocolate lab/pitbull mix who sits under my feet all day long, loyal and content. Her real passion is playing fetch; it’s something she could do for hours on end no matter how tired she gets. When she was a puppy she was more than happy to run alongside me for three or more miles. As she got older she cared much more about smells and marking various territories than she did at keeping pace. She can still run with me, but only for about 3 miles and I’m sure she’d rather be sniffing or chasing her ball in the backyard.
When I found myself unable to really run due to pain surrounding my IT band it occurred to me that a good old-fashioned power walk was in order to get both myself and Murphy moving in the new spring weather. Knowing that I am trying to maintain a certain level of cardio, the walk would be “my walk,” a power walk, which means limited sniffing time for the Murph. Having her on a leash rather than roaming with freedom in the backyard was good training for both of us. Me in control with good posture and a calm, assertive energy, and my dog getting exercise at a consistent, brisk pace.
Many walkers and runners have credited their dogs for keeping them moving and I am no exception. On a beautiful day when I was close to finding a number of excuses for not putting on my running shoes, I looked at my puppy (though she is hardly a puppy in age but she is young at heart) and I knew we were going to head out and power walk until some energy was burned. Thirty minutes later, my heart rate was up, Murphy was panting, and we were both the better for an evening walk together.
If your dog is what motivates you, please feel free to share a story about you and your pup. If you can post a reply and embed a photo (I have no idea if this is possible), it’d be awesome to see a picture and if not, feel free to email it to me at healthandrunning [at] gmail [dot] com along with your name, website if you have one, and your dog’s name and I’ll create a page of for wo(man)’s best friend.
There are many ways to live a healthy lifestyle and there is no doubt that sharing that lifestyle with our pets is an ever-rewarding experience.
I got inspired by this article and will buy a dog to help me in my workout. Thanks!
Sam, glad you’re inspired! There are some dogs out there who will make better, long-term running partners but I think no matter what you can’t go wrong with the companionship and loyalty that a dog will give you.