The top two New Year’s resolutions are: Lose weight and Exercise more. Numerous studies have shown that on average, people stick with their New Year’s resolutions for thirty-two days! That’s a bit of a shame because if you’re one of those people, you’re most likely overweight and out of shape. And don’t misunderstand- we all have tons of reasons for not keeping those resolutions: too much work, late appointments, eating out with clients, bad weather… and all the while most of us have the perfect trainer waiting for us to get home each day- and they are eager to help us eliminate the reasons for making those resolutions. All have to do is take your dog for a walk.

Walking is great exercise. It increases your heart rate and your respiration. It burns calories and people who walk regularly have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels, both important parts of fighting heart disease. It gives you more energy, higher bone density, and lowers the risk of arthritis. It can help you lose weight, or at the very least, help you maintain the weight you’re at. It improves your balance which lowers your risk of a fall. Walking gives you an opportunity to meet, and talk to, other people in your neighborhood. It helps blow off a little steam and escape a few of the everyday pressures we all face. I doubt that many of you reading this will argue the benefits of walking every day!

Now we get to your dog(s)!

If your dog is one of the very few lucky ones who have a fenced-in yard and a doggy door they can use to come and go as they please, some of this won’t apply to them. They are the exception- certainly not the rule. The rule is your dog lives in an apartment or condo, is limited to a small place- one room… possibly a crate or kennel and basically sits all day until you get home. So, you finally get home, you take your dog out to take care of business, and then, back inside because you’re beat. You can tell your dog is not happy with you just sitting on the couch, so you do what any dog owner would do; give him a little extra for dinner! Now I doubt that your dog made any New Year’s resolutions, but they probably should have. Add a number three to the first two I mentioned for people- “I’m going to get my owner to spend more time with me.” Why is that number three? Because over 50% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight, which means that over 50% are out of shape, and here’s the worst part of it all it’s your fault! On all five!

Here’s the best part of it all-you-can fix all five by taking your dog for a walk EVERY DAY. Both of you will enjoy the same benefits. Most people don’t think about it, but your dog needs all of the same things you need- a little love, good nutrition, better joints, more stamina, lower weight, companionship, a little stimulation from experiencing a few different things each week. You don’t have to change into your exercise outfit. You don’t have to drive to the gym. You don’t have to hope your exercise partner shows up. You don’t have to pay monthly dues. Just grab the leash and your personal trainer will never let you down. Studies have shown that walking your dog is much better than walking by yourself. You’ll walk farther. You’ll walk faster. You’ll stop every once in a while and take a look at what your dog has “discovered”. And you’ll build a friendship that you can always count on.

Listen to your doctor. Then apply everything he or she tells you about things you need to do, or not do, for yourself, to your dog. Listen to your vet. Then apply everything he or she tells you about things you need to do, or not do, for your dog to yourself.

You will both be better for it.