Animals can bring so much joy to our lives. From cuddling with your pet at the end of the work day to seeing exotic animals at the zoo or watching cat videos on social media, it is well known that interaction with animals brings enormous benefits for mental health and wellbeing.
But have you ever thought about working out with your furry friend? Today we’ve got four fun and unusual types of exercise for animal lovers of all kinds, from workouts with your pet to interacting with farm animals.
You might think the horse is doing all the work when you ride them, but you’d be wrong. In fact, horse riding is a great cardiovascular workout with tons of great health benefits. According to a study by the British Horse Society, riding at a trot can burn around 600 calories per hour.
Staying balanced on your horse works out your core muscles, inner thighs, and pelvic muscles. Riding also helps with posture, balance, and flexibility.
Riding a horse is a great social activity, too. Whether you take lessons or head out on the trails, doing so with other people can help you make friends and build community. And if you ride the same horse again and again, you might find you start to develop a bond with them.
To try horse riding, look for a stables or riding school in your local area. You’ll need appropriate safety gear, such as a back protector, protective gloves, and a helmet, but you may be able to borrow these at first.
CaniCross is one for the dog lovers and is a far more exciting way for you and your dog to get some exercise than strolling around the park.
In CaniCross, or Canine Cross Country, your dog is attached to you by a special harness and bungee. The dog then runs in front of you, propelling you forward. Originally developed as a way for dog sledders to exercise their dogs in the snow-free season, it is now a popular recreational and competitive sport.
Humans of any ability level and most breeds of dog can participate (though you should wait until your dog is at least 18 months old.) If you are unsure if CaniCross is suitable for your dog, check with your vet.
CaniCross brings all the benefits of cross-country running, from giving you a great cardiovascular workout to strengthening the muscles in your legs. It also gives your dog plenty of exercise and allows you to spend time together and bond with them. Finally, CaniCross is a great training exercise. Your dog will learn to respond to verbal commands, building trust between you.
To get started, visit CaniCross USA and look for a chapter in your area.
Yes, you heard us correctly! Goat Yoga is a wacky fitness trend founded by Lainey Morse in Corvallis, Oregon. Participants practice yoga in an outdoor space with goats roaming around freely. It’s ridiculous and adorable, and it might just be the perfect mental health boost you didn’t know you were looking for.
Yoga is brimming with well-documented health benefits, from reducing stress and improving wellbeing to strengthening bones, reducing chronic pain, and helping participants to lose weight. Spending time around animals is also shown to have various benefits including increased happiness, lower anxiety, and improved confidence. It makes sense, then, that animals and yoga are the perfect combination.
Morse notes that goat fur is hypoallergenic, so those with animal allergies do not need to worry. The classes are suitable for total yoga beginners. We recommend everyone try some Incrediwear Performance Pants for 24/7 relief and recovery on and off the mat.
Interested in giving it a go? Visit Goat Yoga’s interactive map to find the nearest class to you.
By the way: Bunny Yoga and Cat Yoga also exist.
Dog Agility Training
Agility training is an intense workout for both you and your canine companion that is also a huge amount of fun. You’ll need to keep up with your dog and keep them on track as they follow a course of jumps, tunnels to run through, and objects to weave in and out of.
The American Kennel Club has some great tips on getting started. You can join a club or practice at home using your own equipment. And if you enjoy it, you can even take part in competitions.
Most breeds of dog can take part in agility activities, though the AKC recommends you don’t start until your dog is at least 15 months old.
How do you work out with animals? Tell us about any fun or unusual workout trends you know!