Fun Fitness Products for You — and Your Dog
For many of us, the end of the holiday season signals a time to make some changes. Though we all enjoy the extra cookies and candy this time of year, the fact is that by the end of December, we’re all ready to get back to eating healthy and exercising regularly.
And we’re not just fighting holiday overindulgence: According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 all 50 states had at least a 20 percent adult obesity rate. The good news is that if you are a dog owner, you’ve probably already got a willing fitness partner just waiting to get moving — and there are loads of cool products on the market, for pets and people, designed to motivate you.
Of course, before initiating any exercise program, check with your doctor and your veterinarian first to make sure you and your pooch don’t have any underlying conditions that could be aggravated by vigorous exercise.
Foot Protection So You Can Hit the Road
Winter exercise can be a challenge, not just because of the chilly air, but also the ice and snow on the ground. The right footwear can make getting outside a whole lot easier.
For You: Rugged athletic shoes like the IceBugs DTS BU Grip OutDry cross-trainers, $179.95. Designed to grip the ground even when it’s covered with ice and snow, these kicks will stop the weather from slowing you down. Plus, IceBugs are all about keeping your feet toasty and dry, which means you’ll be willing to walk more miles on even the coldest days.
For Your Dog: Protective booties like the Kurgo Step ‘N Strobe dog shoes, $70. Though your dog’s paws might not freeze the way your feet do when they touch cold cement, they’re still vulnerable to lower temperatures, sharp objects and deicers, so shoes or boots can be a smart addition to your dog’s wardrobe. And this pair has an added safety feature: They light up to make your pup easier to see in low visibility. Not sure your dog really needs shoes? Read what Dr. Marty Becker has to say on the subject.
Wearable Tech to Track Your Progress
We’re well into the digital age and health and fitness companies are working to help both humans and pets get moving. So why not take advantage of tech advancements to assist you and your pooch on your fitness journey?
For You: A fitness watch like the Polar M400, $249.95. This watch tracks activity, calories and steps; provides heart rate, pace, distance and elevation feedback; and offers a Back to Start feature to help adventurous souls find their way home after wandering. And to keep you motivated after your workout, your data can be easily synced and shared with the Polar Flow mobile app (available on iOS or Android). Garmin, TomTom and Adidas also have options for tracking and recording workouts. Need more information before you commit to a GPS watch or tracking device? Check out Wellocracy’s step-by-step guide to choosing a fitness tracker.
For Your Dog: An activity tracker like the iQPet StarWalk, $99.95. Once you attach this small device to your pup’s collar, it syncs with an app (iOS or Android). It allows you to monitor activity and set goals — and provides real-time feedback about how close your dog is to meeting those goals, which could be just the incentive you need to take him for an extra walk around the block after dinner. Other products to consider are the Tagg GPS Plus and Whistle (both of which you’ll read more about soon on Vetstreet). To ensure that such a device doesn’t come off and get lost — or wind up in your dog’s mouth — be sure that his collar is properly fitted before attaching the tracker.
Visibility Boosters for Safety
Fewer daylight hours in winter months require a little more attention to visibility, for both you and your dog. Safety first!
For You: Detachable safety lights like 4id Power Spurz, $19.95. When it comes to safety lights, you want something that stays in place without getting in your way — and, of course, it needs to provide major visibility. These weatherproof LED lights slide onto the back of any sneaker and provide light that can be seen from far away. If you don’t want something on your shoe, the same company offers lights to wear on your arm (though you can wrap one around just about anything).
For Your Dog: An LED-lighted collar and leash like Dog-e-Glow, $24.98 for the collar and $29.98 for the leash. If the light-up booties mentioned above aren’t quite right for your pooch (or you want him to be even more visible), a lit collar and leash combo should do the trick. Just be sure to do your research and choose an option that’s best for your dog and your location. Do you need it to be waterproof? Do you want it to flash? One word of caution: Because this collar contains a battery, be sure your dog doesn’t chew it — remove it after walks or runs and store in a safe place.
Tools To Help You Eat More Mindfully
You know how important it is to savor an appropriately sized, balanced meal as opposed to speed eating, say, an enormous plate of nachos. While it’s up to you to make healthy choices when it comes to what you put on your plate or in your dog’s bowl, these products can help you keep portions in check and encourage your dog to eat more slowly.
For You: Dishes that guide how much you serve, like the Livliga Vivente portion-control plates, $60. The designs on these plates are stylish and modern, but they serve more of a purpose than just being pretty — they also function as portion indicators, so you can dish out a dinner with just the right amounts of protein, veggies, sauce and more.
For Your Dog: A feeder that forces Fido to slow down as he eats, like the Company of Animals Buster dog maze, $22.95. Unlike a traditional bowl, a feeder like this gets your dog to work for his food, using both his mind (he has to solve the puzzle to get the food out) and his body to access his meal. Of course, this will not portion the food for him — that’s still on you — but it might keep him from wolfing it down like a professional eater. Keep an eye on the feeder, though, to make sure your dog isn’t chewing so hard that he’s damaging the plastic or possibly his teeth.
New Activities to Challenge You
For You and Your Dog: Sign up for an agility class. This can be a fun way to add to your dog’s skill set and help him burn excess energy, but he’s not the only one who benefits: Agility training gives you an incentive to get off the couch, both during class and throughout the week as you go outside to practice. We’ve got some great tips to help you determine whether agility is the right fit for you and your pet. And if it’s not, perhaps one of these activities would suit you both better.
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