Puppy #5 was the most adorable creature I had ever laid eyes on, little did I know this bundle of fur would have such an impact on my fitness and my physique.
It all happened gradually. The first week Murphy the Bernese Mountain dog came home I told myself it was acceptable to rush home after work (and skip my workouts) so I could tend to the puppy. The little guy just left his mamma and shouldn’t be left alone, he needed as much support as possible until he was comfortable in his new home. This attitude somehow extended into weeks three and four.
By week 5 Murphy stopped merely chewing socks and started inhaling them, in one gulp, along with headbands, underwear, and drywall. There was no way I could leave him home alone with my belongings or my walls. A couple more weeks passed and constant puppy supervision meant no workouts.
Yes, but I walk the dog every day, several times a day, sometimes for several hours to make up for my workouts (or so went the story I kept telling myself).
6 months and only a handful of workouts later and let me tell you how inadequate ‘walking the dog’ has been for maintaining a healthy level of fitness and a lean, firm physique. I am now the not so proud owner of a few extra unwanted layers, my pants fit a bit tighter, and gone is the definition in my legs and firmness in my glutes.
Is the joy of being a new puppy mamma worth it? Absolutely, but it really didn’t have to happen that way.
What I learned about fitness from walking the dog
Current Physical Activity. After more than a decade as a personal trainer I have reviewed thousands of New Client Questionnaires where people report ‘walking the dog’ as their current physical activity. Unless you walk the dog high speed, uphill, wearing a weighted vest for at least 30 minutes, and lunge all the way home, do not count this as physical activity. You may count walking the dog as a warmup to your workout or an ‘active rest’ activity on your off workout days.
Must Squat. For good reason squats are considered the father of all exercises. Nothing will firm and shape your legs and glutes like resisted squats and lunges. Take these and the rest of your strength training out of your workouts and the flab will set in. Do not expect significant results from dog walking unless you have been bedridden for at least a year, and do not expect to maintain the results of years of hard training.
Don’t believe your own lies. If you tell yourself that going for a walk instead of doing your workout is the same, you will believe yourself, even though you are lying through your teeth. Just do the workout!
Happy training and dog walking!