Got a pup? Your four-legged friend can warm your heart but also help you stay healthy.
Running with your dog specifically is a great way to both exercise and spend time together. In fact, about 20 percent of Americans say they are happiest when running with their dog. On the flip side, most dogs need about 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Need more reason to upgrade your furry companion to your official running buddy? The following are eight health benefits of running with your dog.
Whether you or your pup are looking for health improvements through weight loss, you can benefit together from running consistently.
Just remember to start slow and with shorter distances. Both you and your dog will need to build up to faster paces and/or longer distances. But the effort will help you achieve your goals over time.
Improve your mood and reduce stress
Running with your pup can improve your mental health. If you’re feeling sad, frustrated or any other negative emotion, a short jog where you can connect with and focus on your dog can improve your mood.
It’s a great option to help balance the negative emotions that’ll come your way.
Because exercise helps you emotionally and mentally, you’ll also be better at handling stress from day to day when running with your dog.
Keep in mind that exercise has been proven to release endorphins that can increase your overall happiness and reduce stress as well. Dogs also have endorphins in their systems, just like humans. And those endorphins help dogs feel relaxed.
Sleep better at night
There are a number of benefits from exercise in general, but did you know that running with your dog will help you sleep better at night? Who wouldn’t like better sleep?
In fact, only 30 minutes of running can help you fall asleep faster (than if you hadn’t run). And we’d guess you’ll see your pup catch more Zs as well.
Reduce the risk of diabetes
Running consistently with your dog can positively impact your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
By improving these health factors, you reduce your risk of diabetes, but you’re also doing the same for your canine. Win-win.
Improve bone density
Like humans, dogs can experience joint pain and arthritis. By running together, you’ll both improve your bone density. You’ll also strengthen muscles that will help keep you both as limber as possible.
Stronger bones contribute to a longer health span for you and your pup.
Really! By running with your pup, you’ll actually increase the blood flow to your brain, which results in improved cognitive function.
But in general, running also can keep you more mentally alert as you age.
Another huge benefit of running with your four-legged partner is actually living longer. Runners have a longer life expectancy, and that goes for active dogs as well.
The more active your lifestyle, the better off you both will be.
While we all know that exercise itself has numerous benefits, it can still be difficult to stay motivated and committed to your new routine. Enter your four-legged running buddy who can help keep that drive going. The guilt of letting your pup down might overrule your desire to hit the snooze button or immediately head to the couch after work.
Not only will your dog help you get outside and moving, but over time, they’ll likely help you progress in your running abilities by staying so consistent. They’ll help inspire you to do more, run a little longer, or even tackle some dreaded hills since they’ll be by your side the entire time.
In other words, your pup can help make running something you look forward to and embrace rather than something you dread and want to quit.
Clearly, the health benefits of running with your dog are vast and numerous. When starting out, pick paw-friendly routes (where grass and soil are optimal, but asphalt is fine as long as they build callouses on their paws and it’s not too hot), follow a 5K training plan for beginners, keep your dog close on the leash to prevent pulling or tripping, work on your cues for both movements (like “faster”) or behavior (like “no” or “leave it”) to foster a level of communication when you encounter tempting sights, smells or other animals, and monitor whether your dog needs a break (which is possible if you notice rapid panting, excessive drooling, lowered tail, lagging behind, and so on).
On the flip side, keep in mind that not all dogs are cut out for running. Research your dog’s breed and speak with a dog trainer and/or your vet to better understand whether running is right for your dog (and how much makes sense to commit to).
Kaia FIT is a women’s fitness and nutrition program that empowers women to become the best version of themselves through personalized coaching in a group environment. We prioritize community to help connect women to each other for additional support and accountability. Caren Roblin is the owner of Kaia FIT Sierra, with four studio locations in Reno-Sparks.