Like humans, dogs have different levels of fitness and motivation (or should we say excitement) at the prospect of exercise. But have you thought about using the time you take to walk your best friend and turn it into a workout?

The arrival of coronavirus and restrictions on our lives means walking has never been as popular as a form of exercise, and possibly an escape. But those with a furry friend will be all too familiar with pounding the pavements to make sure their pets get the daily exercise they need, so why not seize the opportunity and up the ante for yourself too. But how, we hear you ask?

Well..

  • Head hiking

Walking on uneven terrain works your leg and glutes, add an incline and you can increase your calorie burn by up to 15%. When you walk on uneven terrain you are forced to lift your feet higher and make constant small adjustments to your movements, taking away stability causes us to engage more muscles to maintain our balance. With your dog, start off slowly, aim for a moderately paced 30 minute walk and build up to an hour a day.

  • Bring a bat and ball

Hitting a ball for the dog with a bat works your biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles; but don’t grip the bat too hard, keep your hand relaxed. Start by hitting the ball softly underarm, then gradually build up to hitting it further and further, you could also try running with your dog to chase the ball, you’ll see how competitive they are! As you get more skilled (and precise!) hit the ball harder and add in over-arm strokes to work your back muscles. The aim is for you to get too engrossed in the game that you’ll hardly notice the extra effort. It’s important to watch for fatigue and stop when your dog needs to.

  • Frisbee anyone?

Great for working your arms and stomach muscles. You only have to stand in one spot for a few minutes while your dog has lots of fun exercising every muscle in his or her body.

Throw the frisbee with your hand moving across your body to get some rotational movement and keep your stomach taut for better abdominal workout.

Once the dog has brough it back, try a ‘golfers lift’ to pick back up; stand on one foot, the other leg extended out behind you, bend your front knee slightly as you hinge forward from hips, this works your thighs and glutes, and increases your core stability.

  • Free style football

Arguably the most popular sport in North Tyneside, develop power, coordination, speed, endurance, agility and all-round fitness as you channel your inner Alan Shearer with your friend by your side.

Start by gently kicking the ball along the ground toward your dog. Encourage him or her to get it, give time for them to figure out how to move it, and make sure to give praise as they catch on.

Some things to be mindful of when you’re out and about with your dog:

  • Be cautious of exercising with your dog on hard surfaces
  • Take the weather into account
  • Make sure any sites where you do any activities are dog-friendly
  • Don’t exercise after feeding
  • Clean up after your dog
  • Take fresh water and a bowl if exercising longer than 30 minutes
  • Keep dogs away from busy roads and traffic.