Expecting a Baby? Why Your Dog Might Be Your Best Walking Buddy

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and for pregnant women, it holds even more significance. A well-rounded exercise routine can help in reducing the risk of developing gestational diabetes, as suggested by the American Diabetes Association. The key is to stay active and follow a regular workout plan, and one companion that may help you achieve this is your furry friend. Yes, you read that right – your dog may be the best workout partner you ever had!

Dogs Encourage Physical Activity

A recent study involving 11,000 pregnant women discovered that those who owned dogs were 50 percent more likely to follow the recommended 30 minutes of brisk walking per day than those without canine companions. This research, conducted in collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare, indicates that having a dog can motivate people to indulge in more physical activity.

The study found a positive association between owning one or more dogs and pregnant women engaging in regular brisk walking, thereby helping them fulfill the suggested 150 minutes of activity per week. Researcher Carri Westgarth, Ph.D., states that dog ownership provides motivation to go for walks, even during pregnancy.

Importance of Exercise During Pregnancy

Maintaining physical activity during pregnancy is essential for various reasons. It helps in:

  • Reducing the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Strengthening muscles and joints
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Preparing the body for labor

Furthermore, staying active can potentially lead to an easier labor, quicker recovery, and an overall better pregnancy experience.

Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women and their Dogs

While it is crucial to engage in an exercise routine during pregnancy, it is equally important to ensure you choose activities that are safe for you and your baby. Walking is an excellent start, but once you get accustomed to this level of exertion, you could consider gradually incorporating the following exercises into your routine:

  1. Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that helps in strengthening muscles, reducing pressure on joints, and offering a full-body workout. Plus, your dog can have a fun time swimming alongside you.

  2. Yoga: Prenatal yoga is a popular choice for many expectant mothers, as it focuses on flexibility, strengthening muscles, and relaxation. Take your dog with you to the park and practice yoga surrounded by nature.

  3. Fetch games: Playing fetch with your dog is a great way to unwind, spend quality time, and stay active. Just make sure to avoid exercises that involve high-impact jumping or intense running during your pregnancy.

  4. Group exercise classes for dogs and their owners: Some fitness facilities offer group exercise classes specifically designed for dogs and their pregnant owners. These classes combine strength training, stretching, and cardiovascular workouts to provide an overall balanced workout.

Things to Keep in Mind

While exercising with your dog during pregnancy can have numerous benefits, it is essential to keep some precautions in mind:

  • Consult your doctor: Before starting any new exercise routine, always consult your healthcare practitioner to ensure that it is safe for your specific pregnancy.

  • Keep your dog on a leash: Ensure your dog is on a leash when walking or exercising outdoors for the safety of both you and your pet.

  • Stay hydrated: Make sure you and your canine companion stay hydrated through the entire workout session. Carry a water bottle and a portable water dispenser for your dog.

  • Monitor body temperature: Being out in hot weather can increase the risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Be cautious about exercising outdoors during peak sun hours, especially during summer.

In conclusion, having a dog can work as a motivating factor in staying active during pregnancy and promoting a healthier lifestyle. So go ahead, leash up your furry friend, and embark on an enjoyable workout journey together!