Doggie Exercise

Several years ago I looked at my black lab, Belle and realized she looked like a tick.  Big round body and tiny little head.  So, we started to walk because I looked like a tick too.  The neighborhood we lived in had a one mile loop with several cul-de-sacs.   It was a great walk with hills to challenge our legs and shade for a reprieve from the sun.  We had only been walking for a week when I realized that Belle had developed a waistline.  I was appalled!  I hadn’t lost a pound.  At this rate she would be skin and bones and I would still have weight to lose.

We kept walking for a while and she had a very sleek and fit body.  Mine wasn’t, but the walk did more for me than lose weight.  I was excited to get out there to walk because I felt better when I did.  I noticed the stress of the day fall off my shoulders.  So, in one way I did lose weight.  Is it possible that Belle lost weight immediately because she didn’t have any stress?

What we know about stress and weight loss could fill several books.  In short stress does contribute to weight gain.  Let’s consider the stress hormone, cortisol.  It’s responsible for more than weight gain.  Issues with blood pressure could also be a concern.   In the end we could face having a metabolism that slows so much it seems to stop.

Then there are cravings that cause us to drive to the grocery store in the middle of the night to pick up ice cream and pretzels.  This is more of an emotional response to stress although medicine believes there may be a connection to hormones too.  Binge eating can in turn bring on blood sugar problems, mood swings, exhaustion and fat storage.  This very special kind of fat storage has its own compartment — right in your belly.  It isn’t just horrible to look at it is a very serious sign of  potential heart attack or stroke.  None of it is good.

If you can’t drag yourself to the gym I propose you start to exercise with your pet.  Dogs do better than cats.  Cats frown on a leash and they usually only saunter.  Dogs, especially in the winter, like to keep a good pace going.  In the summer you will be forced to walk early in the morning or well after the sun has gone down.  If you don’t think its hard to walk in the heat try putting on a winter coat before you walk outside.  Watch the heat with you and your pet.  It can kill.

Another exercise idea is to play catch with your dog.  A soft frisbee found at the pet store is a good choice.   It demands a little more work than a ball — for you, not the animal.  Make sure you jog around while you are out there.  Racing through a field with your dog is great fun for them.  Let them catch you and then give them plenty of pats and praise.  After all, they aren’t getting paid to help you exercise.

Have a fun-filled Summer.

Be Well!

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