10 Activities to Do with Your Pet to Get Your Heart Pumping

According to the ASPCA, one in five households in the US has added a cat or dog to their family since the beginning of COVID-19. And while there’s never a bad time to adopt a new four-legged family member, right now (in the midst of a pandemic, when staying healthy is on the top of everyone’s priority list) is a better time than most. That’s because being a pet owner can actually make you a healthier person.

Animals not only help to relieve stress, a key element in maintaining optimal health (for example, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that a 15-minute pet session with your pup can lower blood pressure by 10 percent), but your pet can actually help you get—and stay—fit.

But how, exactly, can you translate pet parenthood into a higher level of fitness? Let’s take a look at 10 activities to do with your pet to get your heart pumping—and get yourself (and your pet!) healthier in the process.

Go for a walk (or a run)

If you want to get your heart pumping, one of the fastest, easiest ways to do so is to lace up your shoes and go for a walk. And one of the best incentives for walking on the regular? Owning a dog. According to a recent study outline in The New York Times, dog owners spend about 300 minutes per week walking—about 200 more minutes than their pup-less peers. 

If you have a dog, aim to take them for at least one 30-minute walk each day—but, depending on your dog’s size and energy level, feel free to walk longer or take your pup for multiple walks per day. It might not seem like much, but regular walking will get your heart rate up and increase your fitness over time.

If you want to really get your heart pumping (and your dog is willing and able!), up the ante and turn that walk into a jog. (Just make sure to keep a grip on their leash as you run—or invest in a hands-free leash, which ties around your waist, to ensure your dog stays by your side throughout your run.)

Hit a pet-centric workout class

If you prefer to get your heart pumping in a fitness class or at a gym, you’re in luck! There are plenty of places where you can get your sweat on with your pet.

Pet-friendly fitness centers, which allow you to bring your four-legged friend along for your workout, are popping up all over the country. Many of them even offer workout classes that get your pet in on the fun (dog yoga, or DOGA, is a particularly popular offering). Do your research to see what pet-friendly fitness options are available in your area—then pack your workout gear and your pup, head over, and get your heart rate up.

Take your pet on a bike ride

Cycling is a great activity to get your heart pumping—and it’s also an ideal activity to do with your pet.

Whether you have a dog or a cat that appreciates the great outdoors, there’s a way to incorporate them into your bike ride. If you have a larger, active dog, you can use a bicycle leash and allow them to run by your side while you cycle (just make sure not to cycle faster than your pup can run!). 

If you have a smaller dog or cat, you can add a basket to your bike and have them ride up front with you. (Just make sure to attach their harness to the basket so they don’t jump out!). And if you have a pet that has mobility issues (big or small!), you can attach a bicycle trailer to the back of your bike and pull them with you as you cycle. And as a bonus? Pulling the trailer will make you work harder during your ride—which will up your calorie burn.

Play with your pet

Pets enrich your life in so many ways, including creating more opportunities for play. And while the joy of playing with your pet is reason enough to make time for it each day, if you choose the right play, it’s also an opportunity to get your heart pumping.

When playing with your pet, opt for activities that get you moving and get your heart rate up. If you have a dog, take them in the backyard or to a local park and play chase. Not only will it help your dog work off energy, but if you’re running at full speed, you’ll work up a sweat in no time. 

Or, if you have a cat, run around your house with a laser pointer, randomly aiming it at the floor and walls. Your cat will chase you—and the laser—and, because you’re actively moving throughout your home, you’ll get your heart rate up in the process.

Other heart-pumping activities to do with your pet 

Need more ideas for pet-friendly workouts? Here are a few additional activities that you can do with your pet that will deliver quality time with your pet and get your heart pumping:

  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Kayaking (as long as your pet can swim and wears a lifejacket)
  • Canoeing (as long as your pet can swim and wears a lifejacket)
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowshoeing

Please note that Fitbit is not liable for potential injury to your pet during the course of physical activity. It is advisable to speak to your veterinarian before starting your pet on any physical exercise regime. Be mindful of your pet’s well-being before, during, and after engaging them in any of the above activities, so that you won’t overwork your furry friend while working out!

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