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Owning a pet can offer you more than just adorable pictures to post to your Facebook or Instagram accounts. The benefits of having a four-legged companion range from being less stressed, to increased physical activity, and even a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Companion animals have been used in various therapies for years to help raise spirits and be a calming presence. Now post-secondary institutions and offices are getting in on the action. Rising in popularity in the last couple of years, universities and colleges have been bringing in therapy dogs to ease exam stress for students, while workplaces are allowing employees to bring their canines to work.

Now imagine the feel-good benefits you can expect if you combine your pet’s unconditional love with the effects of increased physical activity. For dog owners, many cite fido as the reason for getting in at least a daily walk, if not for them, for the responsibility to their pet. Using your dog as a workout partner can be a fun motivational tool for those who might be experiencing a bit of a lull in their training.

Tips to Keep You and Your Dog Happy

  • Take training gradually. As an athlete you would never begin training by pushing yourself to extremes, the same applies for your four-legged friend. Work in increments toward completing full distance runs or bikes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water during and after training is just as important for your dog’s performance and health as it is yours.
  • Know the limit. You know your body best and when you’ve hit your physical limits. Running with your dog means you have to keep an eye on them as well, if they begin to pant heavily or seek shade, it’s time for a break.

Running and biking don’t have to be your only options for working out with your dog, walking is an option, as well as hiking, or turning a game of fetch in to intervals as you sprint behind your dog. Keep in mind that not all dog breeds are suited to rigorous activity, so do some research first. No matter how you and your dog plan on fitting physical activity into your lives, it will be time well spent for you and your pet.

References Available from SIRC Collection:

1. Cutt H, Giles-Corti B, Knuiman M, Timperio A, Bull F. Understanding Dog Owners’ Increased Levels of Physical Activity: Results From RESIDE. American Journal Of Public Health. January 2008;98(1):66-69.
2. Giaquinto S, Valentini F. Is there a scientific basis for pet therapy?. Disability & Rehabilitation. March 31, 2009;31(7):595-598.
3. Lentino C, Visek A, McDonnell K, DiPietro L. Dog Walking Is Associated With a Favorable Risk Profile Independent of a Moderate to High Volume of Physical Activity. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. March 2012;9(3):414-420.
4. Oka K, Shibata A. Dog Ownership and Health-Related Physical Activity Among Japanese Adults. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. July 2009;6(4):412-418.
5.  Owen C, Nightingale C, Whincup P, et al. Family Dog Ownership and Levels of Physical Activity in Childhood: Findings From the Child Heart and Health Study in England. American Journal Of Public Health. September 2010;100(9):1669-1671.
6. Yabroff K, Troiano R, Berrigan D. Walking the Dog: Is Pet Ownership Associated With Physical Activity in California?. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. March 2008;5(2):216-228.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.