Turn Your Dog Walk into an Interval Circuit

Spice up your dog walk with interval training.

Even if you walk your regular neighborhood route, a series of intervals will keep the walk fresh for both of you. Plus, according to the Mayo Clinic, interval training on walks will help you burn more calories and increase your aerobic capabilities. You and your dog will have fun while getting in a great workout.

What is interval training? In short, you’re adding bursts—intervals—of high-intensity exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; even alternating speed walking with leisurely walking counts. Here are three ways you and your dog can add intervals into your walk today:

Run

To add the interval component, simply increase your pace for short bursts periodically throughout your walk. Start with a few intervals to build up your and your dog’s stamina. If you’re used to maintaining the same pace on your walk, switch it up with a light jog or speed walking. Walk at your usual pace until you, say, pass a park bench. Speed walk to the next bench, and then resume your normal pace. Or, if you’re already a runner, try sprinting between those benches.

Jump

Remember jumping over every crack in the sidewalk when you were a kid? Resume that practice! Jumping is a great way to add intensity and strengthen your legs. If you’re feeling adventurous or ready for a bigger challenge, try jumping onto benches, ledges, or over obstacles like fallen branches. Get your dog involved, too. My dog loves to jump onto a stone wall that circles a section of our park. When we get to that spot, I encourage him “up,” and he walks along the ledge until the last segment and jumps down. And anytime I jump over a rock or branch, he jumps with me.

Play

Beyond burning calories and building endurance, intervals are fantastic for making your regular routine exciting. Turn those intervals into a game to make your walk more fun for you and your dog. For instance, every time you pass a park bench, you do 10 pushups with your pup in a sit/stay, and then your dog does 10 “puppy pushups,” rapidly shifting from a sit to a down. If you walk where it’s legal to have your dog off leash, bring a tennis ball. Walk together for a while, then throw in an interval: Toss the tennis ball and race your dog to retrieve it. Though your dog will probably always win, it’s a fun way to build your strength, endurance, and your bond with your dog.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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