How to Lose Weight Walking Your Dog
It's ruff business to build huskiness around the waist, especially after the 4th attempt at a diet leaves things feeling impawsible. Let's be honest, it's silly to try cutting carbs for the end of time; instead, why not try something sustainable, "killing two birds with one stone" and exercising your pup and yourself at the same time!
Simple, sustainable solutions like dog walking are refreshing just because of how realistic they are. By committing to 2 or 3 walks per day for the next 10 years, you'll probably burn many more calories over time compared to drastically changing your life with keto diets, but failing to maintain it for more than 6 months. Plus, you'll cement your bond with your pup, explore new trails in your neighborhood, and release plenty of endorphins with the fresh outdoor air. Sure, it's slower, but you might have heard about the tortoise and the hare?
Your dietary regime won't come from a $500 course which keeps you coming back year after year, and your accountability partner won't charge you $50 per session. If you're wondering how to lose weight walking your dog, you're asking a great question! It's free to follow your own walking routine, and chances are your pup won't charge your with each session (I hope)!
Motivated By a Sense of Duty
As an added bonus, the primal sensation of pup parenthood can add an extra sense of reinforcement to your weight loss mission. Dog walking can lend an extra sense of duty or obligation, activating your heartstrings of wanting to care for your pup. As Katie Potter, PhD, and assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says, “one of the biggest correlates of dog-walking is a sense of responsibility or obligation.” In other words, dog walking is like a self brain-hack; you can tap into your puppy love as a way to fuel your weight loss efforts!
The concept of weight loss is actually quite a simpler one than folks are often led to believe. It’s a lot like water building up in a bathtub. The amount of water in the bathtub at any one time is just the difference between water added, and water drained. Similarly, the weight of your body is just the difference between how many calories you’ve consumed, minus how many calories you’ve burned off. Voila – weight loss depends on both your exercise and your diet; as Katie Lawton, MEd, notes, “you can’t exercise away a bad diet”. With that being the case, once you commit to your regime of dog walking, committing to a calorie deficit diet will bolster your weight loss results handily.
Before ninja-leaping into tactics to lose weight faster with your dog, it’s worth confirming that walking is a worthwhile way to lose weight. With a bit more confirmation, you can feel more confident about diving headlong into a denser walking schedule with your dog.
How Walking Is Effective for Weight Loss
The internet is bursting at the seams with studies showing that walking is an effective way to lose weight. For example, in a study conducted by the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry, a group of women were tasked to walk 50-70 minutes, 3 days per week, for 12 weeks straight. On average, the study’s participants lost 1.5% of body fat, and 1.1 inches from their waist. Especially given the US Department of Labor’s 2008 study, showing only 16% of Americans over 15 engaged in daily exercise, it’s clear that walking is a great way to ensure regular physical activity.
Although walking certainly won’t melt calories as quickly as Usain Bolt wind sprints, the activity makes up for itself with its ease of sustainability, and it still burns fat, given enough time! For the average person, 2000 steps (which is 1 mile) equates to about 100 calories, and the usual goal is 10,000 steps per day. Let’s say you walked 10,000 steps per day; then, after one week, you’ll have walked 70,000 steps. If 3,500 calories is roughly equivalent to 1 pound, then after 1 week you’ll have lost about 1 pound. Within 10 weeks (about 2.5 months) you’ll have lost about 10 pounds!
Of course, this weight loss per distance walked is heavily dependent on factors like age, gender, weight, pace, and trail difficulty. Studies have shown for example that a 185 lb person, walking at 3.5 mph, might burn 318 calories, while a 155 lb person with the same conditions might burn 267 calories. Nevertheless, it’s quite clear that dog walking, and walking in general, has the distinct possibility of helping you shed some extra pounds from the get-go!
Methods to Accelerate Weight Loss
Now, here are some tactics to fast-track your weight loss when walking with your dog. It goes without saying that the best strategy for weight loss when walking your dog is just long-term commitment to, for example, two walks per day everyday, but these are just some bonuses in case you’re extra eager to shed pounds while walking your pup!
The first accelerator for losing weight with your dog is using a weighted vest. In a study by the American Council on Exercise, a gaggle of people were observed; some wore weighted vests (15% of their body weight), and others didn’t. After walking on a flat surface at around 2.5 miles per hour, those who wore the weighted vests burned 12% more calories than those who didn’t. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to snag weighted vests online, and if you’d like a 10% speed-boost in dog walking weight loss, then these weighted vests are a decent option!
As a note, it’s worth mentioning that health experts occasionally recommend weighted vests over alternatives such as ankle weights or wrist weights, as those weights can add undue stress to weaker joints.
By selecting hillier terrain, not only will the walk probably be more interesting, but the elevation gains and losses will activate your muscles more, probably leading to quicker weight loss. With even a 15 degree incline (which is approximately the same as a 5% treadmill incline), versus a flat surface, you can burn up to 50% more calories for the same distance traveled! It can really be as simple as finding a nearby river path, which likely has more elevation changes than an urban sidewalk.
As Peter Drucker once said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Similarly, you’re probably less likely to reach your weight loss goals if you don’t track your progress in quantifiable ways. You don’t necessarily have to get terribly fancy with exercise or diet apps; sometimes with those, you can end up doing so much planning that the plan doesn’t end up happening at all! Instead, your progress tracking could be as simple as marking an X on each calendar date where you go for 2 walks per day; from there, you can, for example, try to make an unending chain of X’s to train yourself to get into the habit of walking your pup with weight loss in mind.
Short Bursts of Intensity
Short but numerous bursts of activity can also accelerate your calorie killing, compared to bundling your activity into one long session. In an interesting 24 week study by The Obesity Society in 2019, overweight or obese women trimmed their daily calorie intake by about 500 calories, and were split into 2 groups; 1 group walked daily for 50 minutes, and the other group walked twice daily for 25 minutes. Perhaps surprisingly, the group which walked twice daily for 25 minutes lost, on average, 3.7 more pounds than those who walked continuously for 50 minutes. You can keep this in mind when creating your own exercise program; perhaps rather than 2 long walks at the beginning and ending of the day, you can split it into 4 medium-sized walks, organized throughout the day.
Last though certainly not least, another trick for accelerating your dog walking weight loss program is by accompanying it with a cleaner diet. As Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic mentions, “for weight loss, diet seems to be more effective than physical activity. You have to do huge amounts of physical activity to lose weight, but you can get a better energy deficit just by cutting down on calories.” It’s no wonder then why prevailing wisdom often cites an 80% diet and 20% exercise rule for weight loss. In finding a diet which works for you, don’t seek “get thin quick” diets which you won’t be able to maintain for longer than 6 months; instead, explore whole food cooking recipes, high fiber ingredients, and meal prepping which doesn’t leave you clawing for crumbs, allows your body to metabolize faster, and is sustainable for the rest of your life. It could even be a double-whammy, since this stable way of quickening your weight loss might make it easier to go for more dog walks!
All in all, dog walking is an ideal outlet for staying in shape. By taking advantage of your pup parent instincts to make life better for your dog, you can decide to melt fat at the same time, all with a nice program of daily dog walking. Not only will your dog help to hold you accountable (by whining for more walks), but you’ll strengthen your bond with your pup in the process. Additionally, by tacking on tactics like using weighted vests, choosing hillier terrain, and tracking your progress, among other tidbits, you can quicken your dog walking weight loss a bit more! Choosing healthy habits which are, keyword, sustainable, you’ll be well on your way to shed weight, sooner or later, all with your pup at your side!