If I wrote a book on how to stay fit, I would call it “Get a Dog…And Walk It.” Think about it: cardio from the walk, the bicep/lat “pull the dog’s leash as he lunges for a squirrel,” the squat to “pick up poop”…the dog gets you up and moving first thing in the morning and after dinner to burn off those last calories. You know in US Magazine’s feature Stars They’re Just Like Us…how many “they walk their dogs too” are there?? It’s the real secret to staying fit! (And I can personally attest that it is true. I always saw celebs on my hikes)…although, the personal chef, personal training teams, and incredible wealth may have something to do with it, too. But I digress…
This past weekend as my husband and I were out hiking with the dogs in Harper’s Ferry I realized there is another huge benefit to having a dog: they get you exploring the city you live in, in a different way than you might on your own. I have two large, active dogs that were used to hiking for 2 hours 3-4 days a week in Los Angeles. Since hiking is a bit of a challenge in the actual district, I have had to do a lot of exploring to get them the exercise they need. For this reason, I have found many trails in Rock Creek Park, along the C & O Canal, Great Falls, and too many parks to name! I have about an two hours a day of breathing in the fresh air, being in a forest (which is a feat in a city), and finding new off the beaten path places. It is also a good way to see restaurants you may want to try or find a garden supply store (or any other random store for that matter) on a street you probably wouldn’t be on if the dog had not pulled you towards some smell or broken cupcake on the ground.
The moral here is you don’t need a dog to do any of the things I have mentioned; they are just a good instigator. It is why us annoying trainers say the benefit of working with a trainer is accountability, or why everyone recommends exercising with a friend or partner. That dog will get you out the door whether you want to or not…and you may just find your favorite thing about the place you live in.