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!

It’s impossible

Balancing everything in your life is impossible. Prioritization and scheduling are key.

It’s impossible to do it all and achieve balance

It’s literally impossible to do it all. You’re trying to balance all aspects of your life, and there’s just too much. Work and family. Chores and friends. Clean out the closet. Read that book. Train the dog. Go grocery shopping. Sleep and everything else. Something’s got to give.

What gives is you …

There just are not enough hours in the day to complete everything. Usually when that happens the things that don’t get done are the things most important to you.

Should other things come before you?

You put family first. Your home. Your job. All those things are important, certainly, but without you, your health, your sanity, you won’t have those things.

Balance is the key

The only way to keep your sanity and stay happy and healthy is to have balance in your life. Balance work and family. Balance your chores with your friends. Don’t spend an hour a week training the dog when just a few minutes every day will give you immeasurable progress! Get the family involved! A shared load is an easier one. And if everyone helps, they’ll all have an investment in the outcome, ensuring its success!

How to get balance?

So, how do you achieve this balance? Prioritization is paramount. Write everything down that needs to get done. This will probably take the longest! Prioritize tasks. Make notes on who can help you with them. Call a family meeting and let everyone know that you’re feeling overwhelmed but that they can help you! You may be surprised at your family members’ willingness to chip in. Especially if you break jobs down into very small, specific tasks. If something seems like it won’t take a long time, it’ll get done!

A calendar will help

Now that you have your tasks, schedule their completion! A big wall calendar will keep the whole family on task. And if everyone writes in their jobs, their investment will continue and things will actually get done!

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.

New Year’s Resolutions are Bad

Living Well Planner to schedule your happiness! You don't need to make New Year's Resolutions for that!

That’s my opinion, of course. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If there’s something that needs doing, I don’t wait to resolve to get it done.

Why wait for a totally random day to start?

Yes, I know – the whole New Year, new start, new you thing. And there may be some validity to that sentiment.

But why wait? Will you keep your resolution more if you make it on January 1 than on December 27?

If the thing you’re resolving to do really matters to you – if it’s important enough to be called a “resolution,” then the date shouldn’t matter.

It you want to start keeping a scheduler or planner, I understand that most start on January 1. But you can take a blank sheet of paper and state your resolve – plan out your days – before then. Some planners, though, can start whenever you like because you write in the dates. Like the Living Well Planner (pictured).

To state, “I resolve to lose 25 pounds in 2019,” without truly committing to that goal – or any other – is setting yourself up for failure. In fact gyms and health clubs offer incredible deals for the New Year because they know that their resources will be stretched thing for just a few weeks. Most people who join a gym or health club at the start of a year drop off in a month or so.

Why? Because people just aren’t committed to the goal of getting fit. It really takes an effort to work out 3, 4 or 5 days a week – especially if you’re driving to a new place, pushing yourself in ways that it hasn’t been pushed before (or in a long time), showering and changing clothes in a locker room with strangers all around you. I give people loads of credit who actually follow through with that any time of year!

Even more difficult than working out at a gym or health club is the mind-shift required to make the change in your behavior. It’s hard to conceive of eating differently. Or acting differently. It’s too easy to do the same things we’ve always done than to commit to a change.

You have to really, really want something badly to actually make that change. And flipping the page on a calendar doesn’t usually qualify as motivation. Things have to get bad – so bad you can hardly bear to look at yourself in the mirror. You have to reach a point where the status quo is intolerable. And then you can start to discover the ways you can change to produce the results you want.

So don’t make resolutions this January 1. Instead, spend time with family and friends. Spend time reflecting on the various aspects of your life. Are you happy? What areas aren’t you happy about? Are you unhappy enough to want to change things?

Think about where you want to be and how you want to feel a year from now. Will the direction your life is pointing to take you to that place and feeling?

If not, think about how you want to change things.

11 States in 13 Days

Mountains, rivers, streams …

I’m still recovering from my marathon driving trip through more than ⅕ of the United States. Booker and I traveled through 11 states in 13 days. Over mountains, over rivers, over bays, over the Gulf of Mexico, over the Atlantic Ocean, over bridges, and through countless construction zones. Healthy traveling is not always easy, but I did my best.

The hard part

I disposed of Hurricane Irma-damaged items from our storage unit in Marathon, Florida, and packed the rest in my Subaru Forester to bring home. I cleared the unit out completely.

The good part

Sunset over the Gulf of MexicoI ate some delicious local seafood and maybe the best pressed Cuban sandwich ever! (Not at the same meal.)

I visited good friends in Marathon and heard of their hurricane horrors.

Other friends and I shared our experiences with our soon-to-be all-natural gray hair. We each stopped coloring our hair at about the same time.

Saw some incredible sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico while I was in Marathon. Met Katie and Adam, a cute couple staying at the same hotel, and took their sunset-kiss picture, now used as Katie’s profile picture.

Had wonderful down-time in late afternoons for a few days, just reading and watching the waters of the Gulf. Booker didn’t quite understand, but he was willing to lay on his cot and get treats for doing nothing.

After a few great days in Florida, it was time for the next phase of our trek. On to Virginia and a new puppy!

Puppy time!

Booker’s six years old and Tango is nine. The other dogs in the household (my sister’s Frenchies Teddy and Torque) are 8 and 4, so the time for a puppy is now! We’d never had two Boston Terriers at home at the same time, and thought that the dynamics would be good. Booker would have another Boston to chase, and to chase him. He’s always trying to get the other dogs to chase him, and it never works.

The breeder who showed Booker’s father to a breed win at the Westminster Kennel Club show had a couple of 10-week-old little boys that I could choose between, so that was an opportunity not to be missed! I figured that I could swing up to Virginia on my way home to the Chicago area.

The bad and ugly

Arriving in Brunswick, GA after driving for 8+ hours that first day leaving Marathon was a nightmare. I had reservations at one of the moderate chain motels. They mistakenly put me in a no-dog room, and when I inquired about it, they moved me to a dog room. OK. I understood…

Except that this room smelled, and the locks didn’t work. I complained about that and the manager checked me out. Yup – kicked me out. Homeless on the streets.

Brunswick is not a bustling town and I was able to get a room at a dog-friendly motel a couple of miles away. (That reminds me – I should post a review about that first motel.)

Destination reached!

Another 8 hours of driving the next day brought us to Chesapeake, VA. I could have continued the final hour to the breeder’s home, as she kindly offered me her guest room, but didn’t want to impose for an extra day.

Nothing cuter than Boston Terrier puppies!Early the next morning I drove to the breeder’s house. It’s on a beautiful street, with established homes and mature trees. I wasn’t entirely sure which house it was because the numbers on the mailboxes were mostly worn. But then I saw her van in the driveway with a license plate that was unmistakably that of a Boston Terrier owner. I parked next to her, walked to the door and rang the doorbell. After a bit she opened the door, exclaimed that I was there and gave me a big hug. Her husband, who was traveling, called at that moment to let her know that someone was at the door. The wonders of a “Ring” doorbell!

Booker and I were warmly welcomed, we met the puppies, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Long trip home

Our trip home was completely uneventful (thank goodness!), but long (16 hours over two days) and inconvenienced by much construction on our route. The puppy was a champion traveler and slept for much of the drive. I was very happy, though, to park in front of my house and not get in my car for over 24 hours after that!

Takeaways for you:

Things to keep in mind when embarking on a long trip:

  • Keep your cool! Everything can be worked out. One way or another. Breathe deeply when things don’t go as planned.
  • Family comes first. When things didn’t go right, foremost on my mind was keeping my dogs safe, cool in the heat, exercised and fed when needed.
  • Stay fueled. It’s much easier to keep your cool when you’re not starving. Fortunately, on a driving trip it’s no problem to keep healthy snacks on hand – for both my dogs and me! And healthy meals are easy to find. Salads are great, with healthy proteins included. If you’re using really good quality ingredients, minimal dressing is all that’s needed. A dip of my fork’s tines is plenty. As for the car – I’m a bit cautious, and look for a gas station when the needle creeps close to ¼ tank.
  • Exercise when you can, but don’t stress about it. When I’m back to a regular routine, I’ll get back to intense exercise. Walking while on vacation is the best way to see new places, meet fun people, and work off that full feeling.

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!

Almost fall! Time to prevent them!

Prevent falls this fall!

It’s almost fall – and it’s the time of year to prevent them! You know that I’m a huge advocate of practicing your balance to prevent falls. I interviewed Kathleen Cameron, Senior Director of the Center for Healthy Aging, a while back about preventing falls – http://fitness-over-50.com/2017/07/prevent-falls-my-interview-with-kathleen-cameron/ .

I even developed a series of simple exercises anyone can do to improve their balance and prevent falls in just minutes a day. And I run a Facebook group with ongoing balance challenges.

Sleepwalking through balance exercises

I became complacent about doing (or not doing) my balance exercises and fell!I became complacent, though. I’ve been sort of half-heartedly, sort of somnambulently performing the balance exercises myself.

And I fell Friday night. Granted, it was while I was carrying my 20-pound Boston Terrier over a 2-foot fence, but it gave me a wake-up call, all the same!

Naughty puppy!

Booker had jumped the fence (within our larger fenced back yard – it’s an area we don’t want the dogs to go in) because he thought he saw a chipmunk. There was no other wildlife in there, he was just being a jerk. In the heat of the moment he jumps the fence with no problem but can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I climbed over the fence – angry, short-tempered – and as I was climbing back out my foot caught in the top of the fence and I fell. Naturally, I didn’t want my dog to get hurt, so protected him. My face seemed to catch the brunt. Fortunately, just scrapes and bruises. There doesn’t seem to be any deeper damage.

It could have been worse, but …

And perhaps because I do some balance work, I was not hurt as badly as I could have been. But, I knew that I’d been slacking on some of the balance exercises!

So, with renewed commitment, I’ll be focusing much more on practicing balance and preventing falls.

It is almost fall. And after fall is winter, and ice and snow. Slippery stuff. It’s easy to slip and lose your balance and fall. Why not do just a few minutes of balance exercises a day to try to prevent any falls you can! Read my interview with Kathleen (http://fitness-over-50.com/2017/07/prevent-falls-my-interview-with-kathleen-cameron/) to see the statistics on just how prevalent falls are, and then commit to prevent the falls that you can!

 

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!