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Your Best Workout Buddy Has Four Legs

How to stay fit at home while involving your furry friend in your workout

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Header photo Charlie Nunn Photography

KristaWith many gyms still closed due to the global pandemic, home workouts aren't going away anytime soon. Luckily, there's so much you can do to stay fit and active while at home. Getting your dogs in on the fun can help you stay active and even help increase your bond.

Here, Krista Stryker, author of the new book, The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight, and a leading fitness and mindset expert, shares her top tips with us for how to stay fit at home while involving your furry friends in your workout, too.


1. Try a new hike.

Although indoor activities are limited right now in many places, most parks and outdoor areas remain open. Mixing up your workouts and your scenery with new dog-friendly hikes can boost your mood and tire you and your pup. 


2. Take your Zoom calls outside and bring your dog.

As Zoom meetings have become the new reality for many of us, we're spending more time staring into screens than ever before. Unless a video call is necessary, try taking your calls while walking outside with your dog instead. You and your dog will get more exercise and fresh air during the day, and as a bonus, you might find that the walks spark greater creativity and inspiration. 


3. Run sprints in the park.

Sprints are one of the most efficient workouts you can do. Even 10 minutes of hard sprints with breaks can build conditioning, boost fat loss, and increase overall fitness. Next time you do a sprint workout, find an open area and take your dog along. Dogs love to sprint, and you'll undoubtedly have more fun with your dog sprinting beside you, even when you're gasping for air. 


4. Go for a run (or a walk).

Next time you go for a run, try taking your dog with you. If you're used to running and your dog isn't, make sure to start with shorter runs and slowly build up to longer ones. 

If a run isn't feasible for either of you, find some hills to increase the difficulty of your regular daily walks and add an extra challenge.


5. Get in a workout at the dog park.

Next time you're at the dog park and your dog is running around having fun, don't just sit and watch—get moving. You can do plenty while your dog plays, including sprints with your dog, bodyweight squats, push-ups, step-ups, and even burpees. You might get some funny looks from the other humans, but all the dogs will think you're just one of them.


6. Get out on the water.

If you have water nearby and feel adventurous, try taking out a paddleboard or kayak and bringing your dog with you. Even if your dog doesn't love to swim, many dogs enjoy being out on the water as long as they know they won't fall in. If it's both of your first times, make sure to ease into it to build confidence before getting out into deeper water.


7. Play ball.

Most dogs enjoy ball-related activities, whether it's playing fetch in an open field or kicking around a soccer ball in your backyard. Next time you play, don't just stand there—make sure you're getting in on the active fun. Run around with your pup, or do squats, lunges, and push-ups in between throws.


8. Do a bodyweight workout at home. 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight workouts are perfect for working out at home since they require minimal or no equipment and very little space to do. If you're anything like me, your dog will have fun jumping around with you as you sweat through burpees, squats, and planks. Better yet, take your workout outside and bring your furry friend to the park with you. You'll both get fresh air and have more fun in the process. For examples of bodyweight workouts you can do at home, check out my new book, The 12-Minute Athlete.


9. Run stairs.

Find some stairs and run, jump, and bound up and down alongside your dog. You'll both get a great workout and have some fun as you work up a sweat. 


Krista Stryker and her workout buddy, her Beagle, Rocket. Photo Charlie Nunn Photography

10. Get in a stretch session.

Build flexibility and relax at the end of a long day with a stretch or yoga session. Your dog will gleefully join you the moment you put your yoga mat down on the floor. Even just 10-15 minutes of stretching a few times a week will go a long way to keep your body feeling more open and flexible. And your dog will just think you're having a fun cuddle session on the floor.

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