If you would like to shed a few pounds, maintain weight loss, or boost your fitness level, one piece of the puzzle you may not have considered in the past – is your chihuahua!
As noted in a study by researchers at Kansas State University, both Americans and their pets need more exercise to fight obesity. They noted that the ideal way to kill two birds with one stone, is to exercise together!
Whether you are young or old, having a chihuahua can serve as inspiration to head into the sunlight and give your heart a fabulous daily workout.
Dog Owners Tend to be More Active
If you have a chihuahua or two, then you know that your pets love being outside, playing games, and indulging in free play. Walks outside provide dogs with mental as well as physical stimulation, so try to indulge your chi with a couple of good walks a day.
The good news is that simply having a dog will result in fitness benefits. A Michigan State University study shows, for instance, that people who own a dog are 34% more likely to meet federal exercise recommendations.
The researchers note that “owning and walking a dog has a measurable impact” on helping people reach their fitness goals.
How Much Exercise do You Both Need a Day?
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week.
Strength exercises at least twice a week are also key to building muscle and boosting your metabolism. While you can’t indulge in strength workouts with your chi (since he or she probably weighs too little to count towards your lifting goals), you can definitely ace your cardiovascular goals together.
Simple Exercise Works Best
Most chihuahuas need a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day, so try to take a nice brisk walk daily when the weather is nice. If you have a very young, energetic chi, bring his favorite ball along and enjoy an active game of fetch.
This can serve as high intensity exercise for you too, if you sprint alongside your chi to try and beat him to the ball! If your chihuahua is older or has joint issues, swimming is an ideal gentle exercise that will give his heart a workout without stressing out his joints.
Building Up Fitness Levels
If you are a senior yourself and you have yet to build up your fitness levels, take it easy, starting out with a short walk and building up distance gradually while also lowering the time taken to complete your route.
Consult with your doctor if you are starting a new routine, and use a wearable device such as a Fitbit or Leaf Urban necklace so you can keep track of your heart rate, pace, number of steps taken, etc.
Brisk walking is an ideal way to build up cardiovascular fitness and can help you stay active during retirement without spending a dime.
Because chihuahuas tend to mimic their owner, your pooch is likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle if you do. To build up his stamina, time your walks and in the summer, make sure to choose early morning or evening for your walks, to stop your chi from overheating.
In the winter, make sure your chi has a good coat on, and avoid going outside on days when it feels too cold even for yourself.
What about a Chihuahua Puppy?
Chihuahua puppies should not take part in vigorous exercise, because their growth plates (soft cartilage) are still developing. If the growth plate is damaged, it can affect bone growth too.
Growth plates in chihuahuas mature much faster than in larger breeds. In general, growth stops at between 10 and 12 months so make sure not too push a young pup too far.
Simply having a chihuahua is likely to result in greater activity for you. Because chis tend to adapt so well to their owners, your dog will be a perfect companion as you build up your own (and his) stamina via walks, games like fetch, and free play.
Being outdoors has fantastic mental health benefits too, including stress relief – which is something nearly all adults could use a little more of.
What exercises do you do with your chihuahua? Leave a comment and let us know.