How to lose weight: Owning a dog can help keep parents fit

Dock jump

It is 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday and a high-pitched whine pierces my ears, drowning out the sound of the television.

It is my son’s afternoon naptime. My wife and I just settled in for some quiet alone time – a moment of solitude from our hectic, daily pace.

Sitting on the couch I swing my feet from the floor, resting them near the armrest. At the other end, I lay my head on one of the decorative red throw pillows. I sink into the semi-firm gray cushions, releasing all of the tension from my body.

Closing my eyes I begin to drift into sleep. A wet sensation extends from the corner of my mouth to the top of my forehead. What?

I see a pink tongue coming to fill my eye socket as I scramble to sit up.

Looking down, two brown eyes gaze at me. The assaulting tongue hangs between large teeth to the left of a dopy grinning mouth as my dog begs me to play.

If it weren’t for my dog, there would be greater opportunity for me to choose to live a passive lifestyle. Without that cold, wet nose in my face every morning, it would be easy for me to decide that it’s too wet to go out for a walk or that the inconvenience of feeling cold would be too much to bare to venture outside.

The reality is, I do have a dog – and he doesn’t let me sit idle for too long.

In fact, my dog is a major influencer on the amount of physical exercise I do on a daily basis. Sure, I go to the gym when I can, play with my son and participate in various sports on an unscheduled basis throughout the week. But the one constant and unchanging source of exercise for me comes from my German Short Haired Pointer, Chipper.

There’s no denying that having a dog is one of the greater joys in life (okay, some non-dog people may disagree). A true companion, dogs are loyal and loving mood boosters that you can expect to be by your side. What you can also expect from your dog is activity, and lots of it.

To your dog, exercise is a requirement, not a choice. They need to be played with and typically associate their source of activity with their owner. And dogs are relentless attention-getters when they need to be taken outside. Whether it is to play or do their business, there’s no ignoring the needs of a hyper hound. This can adversely affect your opportunities to binge watch your favourite television program or catch the British Open in its entirety.

But let’s think positively.

What this does is create the opportunity for you to get off your couch and get outdoors with your dog to throw the ball, chase them around the yard, walk or run together – burning calories while tiring out your pet. In conjunction with healthy eating habits, having a dog can aid in weight loss by keeping you routinely active – daily, weekly, monthly.

See, the glass is half full.

In addition to keeping you active, your dog can also help influence your fitness decisions. Having your pet accompany you on a walk or run can effectively increase your pace or distance covered. Catering to the needs of your dog and depending on the breed, their exercise requirements can be twice daily and cover a distance of over ten kilometres.

As an added benefit to health and fitness, research from the journal, Pediatrics revealed that children who grow up with dogs, especially within the first year, hold a greater probability to be healthier than children who don’t grow up with dogs. Specifically, these children have a reduced likelihood to develop respiratory tract infections and see a boost in their immune system.

Everybody wins.

Not only can a dog be a great companion and a promoter of health for your child, a dog can be the ultimate fitness partner to keep you consistently motivated and moving. Gone will be the days of struggling to stick to your New Year’s Resolution to get yourself fit and in shape.

Due to allergies and other factors, some homes may not be suited for pets. But if you can bring a dog into your home, it might be something to consider…

How to lose weight for busy parents is a hard, but important question. Owning a dog can seriously help! Do you have a dog? How does your furry companion help keep you active?

Mathew Lajoie is a stay-at-home-dad and blogger at “YOUAREdadTOme…” Follow @YOUAREdadTOme on Twitter.

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