People With Dogs Exercise More

Booker the Boston Terrier after a rousing game of tug!Do you have a dog? If you do, chances are you get more exercise than your neighbors who don’t have a dog. A recent British study shows that people with dogs exercise more than those who don’t own dogs. In fact, dog-owners are 4 times more likely to get the recommended amount of daily activity.

Hundreds of families in Britain were surveyed

The study involved hundreds of English households and suggests that just the fact of having a dog can influence how much exercise people get. The study was published in April in Scientific Reports and involved first homeowners in a community in Liverpool. Eventually the study involved hundreds of participants from over 300 neighborhoods, more than half of whom were dog-owners. Scientists reviewed results of surveys and actual activity monitors that people wore for an entire week. The results showed that people with dogs spent more than 300 minutes per week walking with their dogs, compared to about 100 minutes walking by people without dogs.

It follows naturally …

It makes sense, too. If you have a dog, you’re likely to take it for a walk. And if it’s a nice day, the walk will be longer, your pace will be more rapid. You’ll breathe more deeply and feel like exercising even more.

Exercise More with Your Dog

There are other ways to get exercise with your dogs too. I like to chase my dogs and have them chase me in the backyard. I’m lucky enough to have a fenced yard. It’s not big, but neither are my dogs. We run around like maniacs – it’s great exercise for all of us! Plus, it’s a fun way to reinforce the recall – or “Come”! I call my dog’s name and take off running in the opposite direction. He’ll chase me and, since he’s faster than I am, catch up to me. When he catches me, I turn around, cheer for him, grab his collar and give him a little treat. And start again!

Another way to get exercise with my dog is a rousing game of tug! Sometimes I get down on my knees – more my dog’s level – and play with him. I switch hands from time to time so that both arms get a workout. If your dog doesn’t like to tug, chances are he’ll like to chase a toy. Pull a toy along the floor – not too fast or your dog will be discouraged – and let your dog catch it! A game of tug ensues! Fun for all, and pretty soon you’ll both be out of breath.

Many aspects of fitness

The aspects of fitness are more than physical

Fitness is not just physical – there are many aspects of fitness.

We’ll be focusing on each of these aspects in more depth soon, but an overview might be helpful here. Because it’s the most obvious, let’s talk about the aspects of physical fitness. Health, balance, strength, cardio fitness are all elements of physical fitness. What you do to increase one aspect of physical fitness helps another.

Balance is one aspect of physical fitness

Balance moves like this one also improve strength.

As an example, by practicing your balance (and you can get a free Week of Balance by subscribing to my newsletter!) will increase your strength. By doing a cardio workout, you can also increase your strength and balance – think of hops and side-to-side leaps. Even jumping in place can improve your balance.

If you focus on improving your strength, you’ll probably also improve your balance. Those one-legged squats will definitely challenge your balance while at the same time increase your strength. Add a pair of dumbbells and you’re working upper body as well as lower body strength. (Talk about multi-tasking!)

Eating clean will also improve fitness

Eating clean helps your overall fitness.

We can’t talk solely about physical fitness, because so many aspects of your life can affect it! If you focus on eating clean, you’ll improve your overall health, you’ll feel more like exercising and thereby improve your strength and cardio fitness!

And by attempting to eat a cleaner diet, you’ll not only probably lose a little weight, you’ll be cleaning out your system. More fiber in your vegetables and fewer processed foods will tend to move things along in your digestive system.

Mental fitness may be more difficult

Mental fitness is like a dresser. Here's an organized drawer. An achievement to strive for.

More complex is the aspect of mental fitness. I like to think of this as a bureau, or dresser. Currently mine is a mess. Socks are mashed in with underwear, t-shirts and pajamas. There are even swim goggles and pantyhose in there. There’s no order in those drawers. Too many ideas, problems, chores, and other things to do are running around in my head. How’s yours?

First off, a plan is probably needed. I need to figure out what to do with all those items. How best to organize them? I really should start to write everything down. Then categorize them. This is called a “brain dump.” I should really do this every month or so.

If all the aspects of fitness work together – body and mind, happiness ensues. I’ll have to try it. Let’s start together!

New Year’s Resolutions?

Have you made progress?

Turning the calendar page on your New Year's Resolution? It's not too late to make progress.How’s your weight-loss New Year’s Resolution going? We’re a week into February – have you made progress? It’s hard! I know! I want to eat bagels for breakfast, and mac & cheese for dinner too. But I know that won’t get me closer to my goal. I don’t want to get all hot, tired and sweaty exercising every day. I know those first couple of minutes are torture – so why put myself through that?

Exactly – why! The why of our weight-loss goal will keep us on track.

I want to have less pain in my knees and hips. I want to play with my dogs. I want to compete in agility.

Why do you want to stay on course with your weight-loss goal? Go on walks with your loved ones? Shop for hours? Feel good about trying on clothes? Travel? Run around with the grandkids?

Think about your “why!”

That’s the key! Thinking about your why! Your “why” will keep you on track.

I know that if I lost a couple of pounds my knees wouldn’t hurt quite so much. So I’m changing my eating habits to make that a reality. I’m sticking to my exercise schedule.

Yes, it’s hard to stick to those goals. And practically impossible to do without some help along the way.

Accountability is key!

Accountability is key. If you’re not accountable to anyone, there’s no motivation to stick to your goals. No matter how lofty your ideals, and how solid your intentions, without accountability it’s very easy to say – “tomorrow!”

There are different kinds of accountability too – and you don’t have to choose just one. You can be accountable to a coach – one-on-one or group coaching is great. Knowing that you have to report your progress is incentive to actually make some progress toward your goal.

And you can be accountable to yourself, although that runs the risk of days slipping by even though you intend to report in. Tools to keep yourself on track can include keeping a journal every day to mark progress and problems. Making entries in your calendar for your shorter-term goals, and making appointments with yourself to actually do the tasks you’ve set.

Most importantly, if you get off-track, don’t get discouraged. It happens to everyone. Get right back on track and don’t beat yourself up about it.

Still stiff and sore

Sore four days after the workout!

Renegade row - one of the killer moves in Saturday's workoutYou all know I work out four or five times a week. And I don’t baby myself. I try to do a challenging workout and push myself every time. Saturday I did a workout that I’ve done numerous times in the past. It’s not an easy workout, but I usually don’t have to modify it (much…). But my lower body is still stiff and sore four days after the workout!

Every time I sit down or stand up. Every step I take. I’m sore. (Sounds like a song, right? But it’s not…)

I’m no stranger to muscle soreness

Since I’ve been exercising for many, many years, muscle stiffness is nothing new to me. But it doesn’t usually last this long!

So, how do we recover from having sore muscles from exercising?

On the mend?

In a nutshell, do more! Keep on exercising. Keep moving. Hydrate! Yes! When we’re sore after a workout, it’s important to keep moving. The recovery, while not fast enough, is much faster than if you baby yourself and be sedentary. The more you move, the faster you’ll feel normal. I’m hoping. At work, I try not to sit more than 20 minutes at a time anyway, but this week I’m up every 10 minutes and walking around. It’s easier to get up the next time if there’s less time between! I still feel like I’m waddling (inner thigh soreness), but it’s getting better.

And yesterday I walk / ran – almost my normal workout for a Monday. It hurt, but I did it.

Hydrate!

And hydrate! Drink more water. It’s possible that I neglected this step on Saturday, the day of my workout, because I was busy the rest of the day. Drink water during your workout, after your workout, the rest of the day of your workout – and every day after that! It’s good for your overall health, as well as helping your muscles heal!

Be better

Be a little better

Keep trying - full plank with one arm and one leg.Just a little – be better today than you were yesterday. Try for a little more.

It’s easy to plod along, day after day, doing the same things, eating the same foods, seeing the same people, that we forget that we have a limited time.

Sorry – don’t mean to be morbid here, but isn’t that what life is all about?

If not, then why bother?

Trying to be better today than you were yesterday? Otherwise, why bother doing anything at all.

Whatever your goals are, don’t you want to be a little closer to reaching them today? Just be a little better.

Set big goals

If you have big goals, great! Set big ones – you don’t have to meet it all in one day.

Break up the big goals into more manageable chunks, and that way you can set a mini-goal to be better at every day! If you don’t, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by that great big goal staring at you. Lose 50 pounds? Impossible in a day or even a week, or a month! But two pounds this week? Absolutely! Resolve to be chocolate-free for two days. Even for me, that’s probably doable. And then maybe cut out a piece of bread a day. Or maybe every other day.

Mini-goals on your way to the big ones

The point is, your mini-goals should lead you on your way to achieving that big goal, but still be doable today. And when you reach that mini-goal, celebrate and make a new mini-goal. And that’s how you lose 50 pounds. Or launch a business. Or whatever big goal you have in mind.

Today – be better

For today, think of that goal, and be better.

Or think of a few goals to choose among. Then think of what would make you happiest and put the rest on a back burner. You’ll get to them.

And in the meantime, be better today at something than you were yesterday!

Are you stuck in a rut in your exercise routine?

Our routines can get us stuck in a rut

Mix up your workouts so you don't get stuck in a rutWe humans love our routines and habits. And I always stress that routines are important in our goal setting. But our habits in our fitness regimen can be a bad thing. Don’t get stuck in a rut!

The danger of over-exercise

If we do too much of an exercise that works certain muscles, we run the risk of over-exercise and damaging those muscles. In strength workouts, all the experts agree that it’s important to rest the muscles we work for at least 24 hours before working them again. It goes against logic, but resting a muscle group is important for strengthening it! If you like to use weights every day, then work different muscle groups on sequential days.

And if we do the same exercises every time, we’ll hit a plateau and won’t be able to move beyond it. Let’s say you run on the treadmill (my personal nemesis) every day at the same speed for the same length of time. Pretty soon you won’t be able to run faster or farther. You’ll be stuck at 20 minutes and 4 miles an hour (as an example).

Mix up your exercise routine!

On the other hand, if you use an interval setting with hills, valleys, slower speeds and faster speeds on the treadmill, you’ll be able to run farther and faster.

Don’t forget that it’s also important to combine cardio and strength work in your exercise. A day of yoga or pilates is also a good idea for mixing things up. As humans, we get bored easily, so mixing up your workouts keeps you out of that rut and interested. Or as interested as you can be in an exercise program.

So, yes – be sure to schedule your workouts every day at the same time, but mix up your workouts!

 

Make time for what you love

Make time for me!

Training Tango, my Brussels Griffon dog, makes me happy!I believe that a crucial part of fitness is happiness. So often we put ourselves after everyone else and don’t do things we love to do. I think that’s backwards. First of all, you should make time for what you love! Even if it’s just a few minutes.

For me, my happiness is training my dogs

You know I love to train my dogs. It makes us both happy. So every day I spend just a few minutes training my dogs! Before work, before the dogs have an opportunity to get on my nerves so that I don’t feel like spending time with them, we do a little training.

This is not the training that will make us champions, in just a few minutes … but maybe it is! Regardless, it is a great start for my day. Doing something that I love and that makes me happy is a wonderful start to any day! (The picture above shows Tango, my Brussels Griffon, improving his core strength – sit and stand on the balance disk.)

What’s the thing you love to do?

Maybe dog training is not your thing. Does reading a book make you happy? Me too! 5 or 10 minutes may not sound like a lot of time, but you can probably finish a chapter in that! Gardening? 5 minutes every single day can get a lot of weeds pulled! Do you love to write but “can’t find the time?” Needlepoint? Jigsaw puzzles? Give happiness a try! Spend just a few minutes every day and you’ll be surprised at the difference in your attitude!

Schedule your happiness time!

Living Well Planner to schedule your happiness!Perhaps the start of your day is too jam-packed with getting ready for work or exercising for your little nugget of happiness. Don’t rely on “maybe I’ll have time later!” that we always do. Schedule it! Make an appointment with yourself for those 5 minutes of happiness. Do you usually have a little bit of down-time in the late afternoon? Early evening? Schedule your happiness time! If you use your smartphone for your appointments, even go so far as to set a notification. Be happy – you’re worth it!

If you have been wanting a great appointment book and planner that can be tailored to you, the Living Well Planner might be just right for you! And this week, you can get the brand new floral design at a special price! I’ve used this planner, and it is substantial!

Are you getting enough sleep?

Are you getting enough sleep?

If you’re an adult in the 21st century, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. Our screens bombard us. Our diets undermine us. The TV is blaring. The stereo is on. The dogs are barking, or snoring, or making some other noise. The outside light is penetrating our eyelids. Too many distractions are keeping us from the single most important, easiest thing we can do for our health.

You need sleep for your health.

Poor sleep is linked to weight gain

For those of us concerned with our fitness, studies have shown that poor sleep has a direct connection to gaining weight. It might be hormonal, or we may just be too tired to exercise or watch what we eat. But the fact remains that if we don’t get enough sleep, we have a tendency to be fatter.

On the other hand, good sleep is linked to eating fewer calories. Food for thought!

Focus and productivity

Studies have also shown that people who get enough sleep have better focus and increased productivity. Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and memory performance.

Athletic performance

Studies have also shown sleep to be directly correlated to speed, accuracy, reaction time and mental well-being among basketball players. On the other hand, not sleeping enough leads to slower speed, weaker grip and more difficulty in performing physical activities.

Other health risks

Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep causes a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and depression.

The moral?

So, the conclusion we can draw is to turn off your screens, turn off the TV and the radio. Get better window coverings. Take the dog to the vet to find out why he’s making all those noises! (You know that I won’t tell you not to sleep with your dog!) Your health and your sleep are worth it.

Get happier!

Are you stuck in a dark rut?

Even though darkness looms, happiness can emerge!All too often we find ourselves doing the same things – day after day. Repeating the same tasks and not finding happiness in them. If we don’t have happiness and joy in our lives, we have no motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When we’re not happy, our fitness suffers.

Can we dig ourselves out?

So, how can we lift ourselves up and find the joy again? Even when we are doing the same things day after day, we can be happy!

Permission for happiness!

The first step is to tell ourselves that we can be happy. The mere act of giving ourselves permission sometimes makes it true. Try writing down the three biggest factors that made you the person you like today. They could be life-changing moments, like a big presentation or a job change. Keep that list prominent so that you can look at it every day and remember that you’re a person to be proud of!

Change the scenery

Another method is to change the scenery. I’m not talking about a tropical vacation (although that would be nice). Go for a walk. Change your route to work. Sometimes just looking at something different changes your perspective to a more positive one.

Re-energize!

Take a nap. Have a healthy snack. Refuel and re-energize! When your stomach is full of good stuff and you’ve had a good night’s sleep, you feel more positive.

Acknowledge the downsides

Be aware of the negative aspects of a task. That will motivate you to take action and turn those negatives into positives. Your brain will be more nimble trying to turn things around.

Get another opinion

Talk to someone. Things may not be as bleak as they seem to you. Sometimes we’re too close to a situation to look at it objectively. And don’t always consult someone who has the same beliefs as you do. They may see what you consider bleak situations the same way.

Stress can be good!

Channel your stress into a positive outcome. If you’re anxious about something, try to determine the real reason for the anxiety so that you can take action. Taking action is a positive step and leads to a brighter outlook.

So the next time you feel yourself going to that deep, dark place, try these tips and aim for the sunshine!

A first look at guilt

Guilt and exercise / or not exercising

I’ve been thinking about guilt lately, specifically how it relates to exercise.

Are you torn between your guilt about exercising and not exercising. Spending time working out or with family? Do feel like your brain is on the treadmill even when you’re not?

Have you felt guilty about not exercising?

Or guilty about exercising when you could be doing something for your family?

I’m here to tell you to get over it!

If you’re doing something productive –

If you feel guilty about not exercising – are you doing something else that’s worthwhile? Are you working? Earning a living? Helping your family with something? If you’re engaged in an activity that’s productive, then you can work out another time. Schedule it! Put it in your calendar! (One that you actually refer to on a regular basis.)

If you’re not doing something else worthwhile, then you should feel guilty, so get up and move!

Seriously, though, you’re probably spending more time and energy feeling guilty than you would if you’d stick in a DVD and did a workout. You’ll feel terrific afterward – virtuous and healthy!

Are you exercising when you should be doing something else?

Are there really important things that you should be doing when you’re working out? Or are they just things to get to … some time?

If they’re the really important things, go do that and, again, schedule a workout.

Now, only you can determine if those things you’re thinking about are “really important things” that should be done now, or if they can wait.

The key, it seems, is to prioritize tasks. And then use your calendar so you’re sure not to forget the specific tasks that you need to get done.

But don’t leave out exercise!

If you’re feeling guilty about spending time on yourself when you could be doing other things for family, friends, or work, then don’t.

By spending a little time (as little as 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week) on yourself exercising, you’ll be gaining a healthier you. A you that will be around longer for your family. A you that can spend the quality time with your family that they deserve. And a you that will be more productive at work.

So stop feeling guilty. Write down and prioritize the things you need to do.