Man’s best friend is certainly the best choice for a pet that will contribute to maintaining an active lifestyle. Whether it’s running, walking, or a simple game of catch with a Frisbee, dogs have the versatility to be your fitness friend, while felines would be a fitness foe.

For some, having a dog increases the commitment of the owner to remain active.  There are some breeds of dogs that simply require more activity than others, but also many dog owners care enough about the health of their dog to get them out for regular exercise.  If your dog is “forcing” you to be more active, why not get another?

Unfortunately, sometimes the only exercise an owner gets is from the activity that is shared with the family pet.  I have had numerous clients over the years who’s exercise history only included walking the dog.  Unless you are obese or elderly, walking a dog is simply activity, and not exercise.

Here is a chart that spotlights the calories burned when walking a dog for 30 minutes, at 3.5 M.P.H., which is a casually brisk pace.

Calories burned in
30 minutes
Time required to lose one pound of fat
         140           16110.9 hours
         160           184      9.5 hours
         180           207     8.5 hours
         200           2307.6 hours

I encourage you to walk your dog, as it is activity that can be a great piece of an active lifestyle, but it does not make an active lifestyle by itself.  If walking your dog is the primary “exercise” in a weight loss program, keep in mind the more you weigh, the more calories you burn.  Therefore, your results will begin to creep slowly, or even stall completely at some point.

It is easy to avoid limited results by increasing the intensity of your dog gone exercise.  Running for short bouts, while walking between, is a great way to not only burn more calories, but also to progressively prepare your body for the demands of higher intensity.  Try a slow jog for one minute, and then walk for four minutes.  Bump this up slowly over a period of several weeks and soon you will be safely jogging the entire time and burning tons of calories!

The biggest enemy of a cardio program that involves trotting the dog through your neighborhood is a talkative neighbor that stops you, a sniffing dog, or a dog that is marking their territory.  Each of these will cause your heart rate to drop and take you out of the aerobic heart rate zone.  For aerobic exercise, which burns more calories, the intensity level has to remain relatively high.

Exercise pushes you to the limit.  Do you feel like this after walking?  If not, it was an activity and not exercise.


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