FERGUSON: A very simple guaranteed exercise plan

April 5, 2013 

Exercise. A lot of us hate to hear that word. We know we need to do it, but most of us don’t do it nearly as often as we should. And the main reason for that in many cases is a lack of motivation.

It’s just a whole lot easier to sit on the couch or in our easy chair and watch television, surf the Internet or chatter away on the phone. Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. Often until they are unconscious.

Well, my friends, I am here today to tell you that I have discovered a way to get and stay motivated to exercise. For the past year and a half I have walked a mile every almost single day, regardless of what the weather is like outside or how energetic I feel that day. Let me assure you that I do not just love walking that much and that I’m not some kind of fitness freak.

I stumbled on a way to ensure that I was walking everyday completely by accident. The best part is it’s a very simple plan that anyone should be able to follow. It consists of only three steps and I’m going to share them with you right now. Ready? You might want to write this down.

Step 1: Get a dog.

Step 2: Decide on a time during the day when you will have 30 minutes or so to devote to exercise. For me it’s right before or after dinner in the evenings.

Step 3: Leash up the dog and take him for a walk. Do this for a few days in a row.

That’s it. From that point on, the dog will take over and motivation will never be a problem again.

Dogs are creatures of habit and for whatever reason they love to take walks. They love it more than anything in the world. When it is “walk time” my dog will do whatever he has to do to get my attention and he will not leave me alone until he is in his harness and headed for the door.

He will not take “no” for an answer. It is never too cold, too hot, too windy, or too wet to walk. If I am lying on the couch, he will climb on top of me and stare at me until I haul myself up and put on my shoes. You will never have a better “exercise buddy” than a dog, that’s for sure.

You don’t have to take my word for it either, scientific surveys back me up. A study published in the “Journal of Physical Activity” showed that dog owners are 34 percent more likely than nonowners to get the federal government’s recommended amount of exercise. Another health survey I found showed that 60 percent of dog owners who took their pets for regular walks met the recommended standards for regular exercise while less than a third of nonowners did.

Of course, getting a pet is a big commitment and it’s not for everyone. I hate to see people adopt animals and then not give them the care and love they deserve to have. It’s a big decision and one that should be carefully considered.

But if you do adopt a dog, or if you already have one, I strongly encourage you to use their innate walk-loving nature to help you get into better shape. You will never have a better (or more reasonably priced) fitness coach than your four-legged buddy.

One word of caution however for any novice dog-walker -- watch out for squirrels. That’s especially true if you have one of those big, more powerful breeds. A casual walk can turn into an unexpected sprint very quickly when a wayward squirrel crosses one’s path.

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.

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