Is your waistband feeling a bit tighter after the festive season? Have all those mince pies and all that turkey killed your motivation? Are you in the midst of the January blues? Well then, you, my friend, need to embark on a 'Pet Fit' New Year's resolution. If you own a dog, there's probably a good chance your pooch is feeling a bit pooped from all the Christmas fun and games too. The abundance of table scraps and leftovers is probably squeezing their collar, just like your belly bulge is squeezing against your trousers.
Jane Wighton, a Veterinary Surgeon with over 40 years of experience says "It can be really difficult for people to exercise their pets over the festive season when the days are shorter, but it's really important to maintain regular activity with your pet and to ensure they aren't overfed to maintain good health, not to mention the knock on health benefits to the owner!"
Why not turn your daily walk into a daily workout that benefits both you and your four-legged friend? Work off those calories sooner rather than later - so you can beat those January blues and start off your 2016 both healthier and happier!
Eva, the video social network for real people has recruited Helen Livingstone, a personal trainer who has shared her advice on the top ten dog and human exercises that you can attempt with your furry friend, and which will keep you both fighting fit.
Let's start with a warm up…
Human: With your body in an inverted V shape, place your hands a shoulder-width apart and your feet a hip-width apart. Engage your abs, and press your hands flat against the floor. Try to ease your heels to the floor, this may be difficult depending on your flexibility - so just get them as close as you're able. Your head should hang comfortably and your sitting bones will be lifted. Breathe deeply.
Dog: Your pooch will often do a 'downward dog' when they wake up in the morning - so as to stretch. You can encourage them to do this by giving them a yoga mat of their own - and seeing if they join in!
Human: It helps to set up 4-5 small cones or small hurdles if you have them - but works just as well without. Run from the first cone to the second and back, then from the first to the third and back, then from the first to the fourth and back etc. Keep the shoulders relaxed, change direction quickly and push your pace.
Dog: This is a great exercise for both you and your dog, if your dog won't naturally run alongside you, get them on the lead and encourage them to stop being lazy!
What dog doesn't like fetch?
Human: Place your non-throwing arm out in front of you with your hand at eye level, place your throwing arm behind you at shoulder height with a 90 degree bend at the elbow and shoulder joint. Keep your legs slightly apart and position your front foot forward. As you throw, keep the throwing elbow high and rotate through the body. This will give you a core workout as well as an upper body one.
Dog: Meanwhile, your dog should be happy to return your ball to you, getting some good exercise and enjoying the great outdoors.
If your dog knows the 'roll over' command this exercise should be easy.
Human: Lie on your back with your arms above your head and your abs tensed. Lift your head, shoulders and feet slightly off the floor. Using your core strength, roll over onto one side, onto your front, onto your other side and then onto your back. Keep your legs together and try and keep the movements nice and smooth. Repeat back in the other direction.
Dog: Give your dog the roll over command after every full repetition to get them to join the fun. If they aren't this well trained, they may appreciate the rest after all that ball fetching!
This works well if you have a low crawling net that you can set up so that both you and your dog have something to work with. If not, you can still incorporate crawls in your exercise regime perfectly fine without.
Human: Get down onto your forearms and knees, moving the opposite arm and leg forwards at the same time. Keep your core engaged. This move should give you a good all over body workout.
Dog: To encourage your dog to crawl next to you, you can either hold a treat in your hand - or throw a ball under the net to get them to chase it.
You can use a professional step or a park bench to do this one.
Human: Place one foot fully onto the step, push up through your leg driving through the heel of your foot. Stand nice and tall with your shoulders relaxed. As your leg straightens, bring your other foot to meet the first on top of the step. Step down and repeat, remembering to alternate the leading leg. This move will help to strengthen and tone your lower body.
Dog: Hold a treat or a ball in your hand, and raise your arm so as to encourage your dog to join in with you.
Tug of War
The best exercises are those that you can incorporate into the things you do on a regular basis, and anyone who has a dog will engage in tug of war fairly regularly.
Human: Place your feet about hip-width apart. Then squat down as if sitting back into a chair, keep your abs engaged, back straight, and your weight going back into your heels. Hold a dog toy in front of you, and maintain good posture in your upper body. You may well have to rock forwards and backwards during the tug of war, so focus on maintaining a nice straight spine and keep your core engaged throughout.
Dog: Play tug of war with your dog and get a good upper body and core workout, along with the legs in the squat position.
Sit Up & Throws
Human: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with your arms above your head holding the ball. Engage your abs, bring yourself up to a sitting position and at the top of the move, throw the ball as far as you can for your dog to chase. Continue an abdominal exercise of your choice, such as cycling your legs, whilst the ball is retrieved, and repeat.
Static Core Work
Some of these exercises are great for dog obedience too.
Human: Lying, standing or sitting beside your resting dog; contract your pelvic floor muscles, draw your naval towards your spine and hold. The rest of your body should remain relaxed. Cool down for five seconds and repeat.
Dog: After all that work, your dog will be pleased for a nice relax - or they may still want to join in!
For furrowed brows and furry faces.
Human: To wind down after all that exercise, why not give your face a workout too?! Smile widely whilst stretching your neck upwards, then kiss the air and repeat 10 - 15 times. This exercise relaxes the muscles around the lips and cheeks to brighten up your face!
Dog: So your doggy doesn't miss out on the action, give them a chew as a reward for all that hard work, and see what funny face yoga poses they muster up!
If you're keen to learn more, or keep fit with a group of other dog-lovers, then feel free to sign-up to Eva's #PetFit bootcamp on Clapham Common on the 23rd of January. Don't forget to also search for the #PetFit hashtag on eva to see what other fun and unique pet exercises people are attempting!