Posts Tagged ‘dog walk’

Four legs to fitness!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Got a dog? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably yes, or else it’s “I’m planning on getting one soon.” Great! Grab the leash and get ready to hit the trail, sidewalks, or parks for a path to fitness! What better weekend to start a new fitness routine than Memorial Day weekend? (…If you find yourself lapsed on your New Year’s resolution… that is!) Whether you’re in the U.S. (celebrating a long 3-day holiday weekend this weekend) or not, the last weekend in May is pretty much the official start of summer, with long days of sun, languorous lounging at the beach, and picnics in the park to kick it all off.

Results of a recent study revealed that people who have dogs and regularly walk them are 34% more likely than those that don’t have dogs to meet government-mandated physical-activity guidelines, which equates to 30 minutes of “moderate” exercise each day, at least 5 days a week.

The data, which was gathered through a telephone survey of nearly 6,000 adults, revealed that of those that owned dogs, about 61% take their dogs for regular walks, for at least 10 minutes at a time. As for the other 39%, we are pretty sure that both they – AND their dogs – could benefit from some extra daily activity! The good news from the study is simply this:  Just having a reason to move regularly (i.e. your activity-loving, walk-needing dog) has a serious advantage when it comes to meeting physical activity needs for health benefits. Walking your dog regularly means you’re much more likely than most other people to get the government recommendation of at least 150 minutes of exercise each week (though only 27% of the regular dog walkers took their dogs walking for 30 or more minutes each walk). And if this isn’t enough good news, dog walkers were also  more likely than non–dog owners to amp up their exercise to “moderately intense,” taking a walk around the block to new lengths (and speeds), perhaps going further each day, walking faster, starting a jogging routine, or more. It seems that “moving begets more moving” – exercise feels great – to you AND your dog, and taking that first step really is the hardest. Once you’re moving, it’s easy to simply keep going!

Doggone Good Benefits

Other research has suggested that owning one or more dogs can not only help encourage people  to lead more active lives, but reduce stress through bonding with their canine companion, as well as the known stress-relieving effects that regular exercise brings. Dog owners also have been found to have healthier blood pressure (see above for why!). It’s pretty simple: Dogs — like humans — need regular exercise to stay happy, healthy, and relaxed. In an earlier post, we spoke about the mental benefits to your dog from regular exercise: a daily walk can prevent cognitive dysfunction disorder in dogs (which is mental decline similar to Alzheimer’s disease in human)!

When we exercise our dogs, we exercise ourselves, too. Just don’t forget to refresh yourself on the rules of dog walking etiquette, for the benefit of your dog as well as your neighbors. So, get up off the couch and get your walking shoes on! Find a meaningful reason to walk so you’ll do it often: your muscles, your heart, your frame of mind… not to mention, your dogs… will thank you.

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Downward Dog with a “Dogi” of Yoga!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

A few days ago, walking the dogs (of course), I happened to walk by a newly opened yoga studio (is it me, or do they seem to keeping pace with new Starbucks openings?) and saw that in addition to regular yoga, they also offered something called “doga:” that’s right,  yoga WITH YOUR DOG! Say whaaaa?

I immediately called Anne Appleby, Yoga Teacher and Founder of YogaForce (and of course, friend of earthbath), who also happens to be a Doga pioneer, for more information.

I asked Anne: How on earth did you get involved with Doga? What IS Doga??

She answered: “I’ve been practicing yoga since the late 80s, when yoga was nowhere near the craze it is now in the United States. I became addicted to yoga after taking some lunchtime yoga classes on the lot of Paramount Pictures where I used to work – in a very ‘Type-A’ environment, as you can imagine!” Anne has been teaching yoga privately and in many locations around the Bay Area since 1997, but a small 8 pound fluffball that entered her life at Christmas in 2009 changed her approach to yoga in a way she could never have anticipated.

When Anne practiced yoga at home, she noticed that Madison started becoming a constant presence on her yoga mat. “When I did downward dog, Madison did downward dog! I thought: so many of my clients also have dogs, this can’t just be unique to me and my dog.  There has to be a way to integrate dogs into the practice of yoga.”

If you think about it, many yoga poses are inspired by the postures and poses that animals naturally do: watch your dog go into a playful downward dog the next time he’s trying to entice you to play a game of chase, or languidly stretch into upward dog after just waking up.

As a yoga practitioner myself, who is also a “mom” to two very energetic, fluffy 50+ pound dogs, I simply could not conceptualize how I could integrate one or both of my dogs into my yoga practice without becoming entirely distracted and likely giving up entirely to their inevitable pleas to stop already! and take them for a walk.

When I asked Anne about this, she said that most dogs seem to take right to the practice. And those that are hyper in the beginning calm down by the end of class and she said that she’s noticed a marked difference in these dogs’ demeanor over time. “Bonding is all about eye contact; you’ll have a much stronger bond with your dog after practicing doga together.”

Anne also mentioned the health benefits to dogs: “Doga is great for dogs with arthritis and joint problems like dysplasia because of the gentle stretching on their joints.” She went on: “In doga you become really attuned to your dog and what poses he likes and those he really doesn’t want to do. Never force your dog into a pose your dog doesn’t like – they will squirm out of it, so you’ll know not to do that one again!”

I still feel dubious. How could I wrangle my obstinate chow chow into a yoga pose?! One pose she suggested I try, since all dogs seem to love it, regardless of size, is a modified child’s pose, which she calls “Cave Pose.”

Sit on your shins with your knees spread wide, and your feet together and pointed behind you, have your dog down in front of you, and then simply wrap yourself around your dog, giving him a kind of hug, as you descend to the floor, as you would in child’s pose.

Okay. Though I didn’t have high hopes for my “partner,” I tried “cave pose” that night with my Bunny (pictured at the end of this post). She actually managed to sit still for a minute… and then she licked my face as I folded into the forward bend. I started laughing, which is not a normal part of my yoga practice (unless I’m falling out of a balance pose).

Yet, laughter is something everyone needs a little bit more of each day. Whether or not we take it to the next (public) level or not is still up in the air… Stay tuned!

Bunny’s Take: ….You want me to do what?!casino aussie