I recently heard someone spreading the message that “walking a dog is not exercise.” While they are entitled to their opinion I whole-heartedly disagree and think that this type of belief around how we define exercise is actually at the heart of why so many people struggle. Let me explain in this…
I’m passionate about removing barriers to movement.
Helping people re-define what it means to be healthy – and to be fit. And one of the MAJOR stumbling blocks is this notion that in order to be healthy everyone has to be exercise. This is NOT the case!
At it’s core “exercise” is intentional movement with a purpose. The purpose of exercise is to improve fitness (cardiovascular, muscular strength/ endurance and flexibility). What this looks like exactly will depend 100% on the individual – their priorities, interests and goals. It also depends on where they’re starting!
For some people who are just getting started – walking the dog is absolutely going to improve their fitness! If it gets your heart pumping and increases your breathing rate – you’re challenging your cardiovascular system and improving its level of fitness! By moving your body through space, up hills and down you’re also challenging your muscular endurance (and likely your strength). Add a stretch at the end and you’ve achieved a very balanced exercise session!
If you’ve already been active for some time walking may not have this same effect! You might need more intensity to ramp up your heart and breathing rate, as well as challenge your muscular strength and endurance. Awesome. Maybe you layer in some short bursts of running OR you find a hill or a set of stairs to challenge yourself. Perhaps even take a quick pitstop at the park for a set of squats, planks and push ups…
Or maybe you view your walk with the dog as a bonus movement and your more formal exercise happens at another time.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The most important factor in this is YOU.
All movement is GREAT movement. And it all adds up to improving your health (and often your fitness as well).
Take away: We need to MOVE our bodies to keep them healthy and well. HOW you do that is 100% up to you. The general guideline is to aim for 150+minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. This can be achieved in bursts of 10 minutes or more. So yeah, that 10 minute morning walk with Fido…it totally counts (as long as your heart quickens and breathing rate increases – you’re achieving moderate intensity).