How Walking A Dog Can Help You With Your Weight Loss Goals

My Sweet Tina - Dogs Can Teach Us About What Matters Most - Walking A Dog For Weight Loss Works

Years ago I had a strong desire to leave the gym and knew that many of my clients wanted other options as well. However, it was an article in Vogue magazine that really inspired me to take action. The article highlighted several Hollywood celebrities that had decided to take their exercise outdoors and leave the gym behind.

Since staying in shape was their business, I was intrigued. Drew Barrymore shared how she had switched from going to the gym to hiking in the hills with her dogs. So, I left the gym and started walking my dogs daily for the majority of my exercise and I’ve been teaching clients how to exercise outside of the gym ever since!

Since I have successfully lost weight and maintained it for years walking my dogs daily, I got really excited when I came across this University of Missouri-Columbia study.


The study showed that walking a dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week produced an average weight loss of 14 pounds for participants.

Study participants were people who were not regular walkers. They began by walking loaner dogs 10 minutes per day, three times each week. Eventually, the participants walked up to 20 minutes per day, five times each week. Those who followed this program for 50 weeks lost an average of 14 pounds.

The ones who walked only 26 weeks didn’t see much weight loss. “Even though we didn’t see a significant amount of weight loss in the group that walked for a shorter period of time, by the end of the study, all the participants were walking for longer periods of time and walking for daily errands instead of using some other type of transportation,” said researcher Rebecca Johnson in a press release.


“Many of the participants reported that they didn’t necessarily walk in the study because they knew it was good for their health; they enjoyed walking because they knew it was good for the animals,” said Johnson in the press release.

I’ve been a personal trainer for over 22 years. From my experience, most people need a “reason” to exercise. Doing it just because it’s good for you is usually not enough. Walking the dog gives the activity a purpose. Being around animals is also relaxing. On the days I feel like skipping our walk, all I have to do is take one look at my dogs and even a short walk is going to happen. Let’s face it, we tend to take better care of ourselves when another life depends on us.


1) Always eager to go. Humans can make excuses due to weather, lack of sleep, or too many other priorities.

2) Always on time. Your furry friend will not make you wait.

3) Allows time away from chatter.  Being with a dog allows you to unplug from electronics and every day stimulation. It’s a great time for meditation and fresh ideas. You won’t be scrolling through your smartphone because you are paying attention to your dog.

4) See the world through your dog’s eyes.  Dogs stop to smell the grass.  They are fascinated with nature.  My dogs inspire me to truly soak in the great outdoors.


Walking with a dog can often be more of a stroll, and this study used participants who were new to walking for exercise. That’s great news. The good results seen for those who stuck with the program for a year proves that simple regular walking for weight control and lifestyle change works.

Beyond the 20 minutes they spent walking, researchers reported that they began adding more activity into their lives. The additional activity beyond the 20 minutes of dog walking is probably a large factor in their continued weight loss. Some even adopted dogs themselves or began volunteering to walk dogs at the local dog shelter.

The results from this study are very encouraging.  They help prove that consistency and focusing on one healthy habit eventually lead to more. The most important thing to note here is that the participants had a purpose that helped keep them from giving up.  Staying consistent is key when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off for good.

It’s no secret I love dogs.  We have four.  However, I realize that not everyone wants to own a dog or is in a position to do so.  If you think you’d enjoy walking a dog, consider volunteering to be a dog walker at your local animal shelter.  Walking shelter dogs helps keep them from getting anxious or out of shape while they are waiting for their new forever home.  It’s a wonderful community service.

If you are thinking about getting a dog please consider adopting. is a great place to find a loving dog that needs a home.

Whether you have your own canine or not, I would encourage you to have a purpose to exercise. Mowing your yard, playing team sports, walking your kids to school, and working out to remain strong enough to do the things you enjoy are all examples of purpose-driven exercise. Having a reason to exercise makes it more meaningful and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

Have a personal dog walking story or “reason” you exercise you’d like to share? Please leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Here’s to wagging tails and fit humans!

The Things Dogs Can Teach Us About What Matters Most

My Sweet Tina - Dogs Can Teach Us About What Matters Most

Last week we received a very serious phone call from our vet hospital regarding the health of one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.  Her name is Tina and she’s been with us since  we pulled her out of a shelter in Northern California in May of 2007.  Her story is very different from the majority of pets that are abandoned by irresponsible owners.  She had a very loving owner that had lost his housing and was unable to take a large dog to his new living situation.  This man was so heartbroken and concerned for Tina that he called every single day to find out if she had been adopted by someone.  I truly believe that God worked through us that day as an answer to his prayers.

When Tina first joined our family she was seriously overweight and full of dandruff.  We placed her on a healthy diet, gave her supplements, and began exercising her immediately.  The transformation was amazing and a true testimony to how powerful a healthy diet and consistent exercise can be no matter where you are starting from.  She went from huffing and puffing on hikes to running on the beach all day.

We are uncertain about Tina’s actual age. However, it has become quite obvious that she is getting up there in her years.  She doesn’t really run anymore and battles arthritis but when it’s time to go for a walk she perks up with the same enthusiasm she showed back in 2007 when we first adopted her.  Her attitude is so contagious that it gets me fired up to go out for a walk no matter where my energy level is at that particular moment.  She reminds me that being able to walk and enjoy fresh air is something that should never be taken for granted!

Tina has never met a stranger.  She loves to greet anyone that is willing to say hello or pet her.  I’ve watched her turn frowns into smiles.  When she was younger she would take off down the beach and find people (usually young college students) that were hungry for a dog fix and hang out on their blanket with them for the afternoon.  She would always leave them better off than when she found them.  That’s something I work hard to do but I don’t think I’ve mastered it quite like Tina.

Tina has always been a great companion and friend to all of the other dogs in our house.  They love her and she helps comfort the ones that are overcoming anxiety when we first rescue them and bring them home.  Being a good friend is one of the most valuable things we can do for someone else.  There are a lot of things that money can buy but true friendships aren’t one of them.

Studies have shown that owning pets helps lower blood pressure and battle depression.  I personally believe that this has something to do with the unconditional love that our pets have for us.  They don’t care how badly you messed up that day; all they care about is that you are home and they get to spend time with you.  When you are responsible for another life you tend to take your eyes off of your own issues and find the strength to carry on.  Whether it’s your kids or a pet, they are counting on you and it’s usually easier to make it through trials or meet your goals when you are doing it for a reason that’s bigger than just yourself.

What Tina and OUR Dogs Have Done For Me

I can honestly say that my dogs have done way more for me than simply help me stay in shape.   They have helped me become a better person in every area of my life. They’ve taught me to focus more on others and less on myself.  My experiences with them have helped me have more compassion and patience when I am out navigating this crazy world.  I’ve learned that things that seem annoying or embarrassing at the time usually turn into stories that make you laugh or even shed a tear when you share them over dinner.

I’m not sure how much longer Tina will be with us.  She tends to turn in early and hangs out on the deck or in her bed more and more these days.  One thing I do know for sure is that we will continue to create precious memories with her and the rest of our dogs for as long as we are together.  Days can turn into years rather quickly so it’s important we take time out to spend them with family, friends, and our furry babies.

I encourage you to maintain balance in your life and take time out to spend it with the ones that matter most to you.  It’s important to work hard.  However, it’s equally important to take time out to play and create the memories that will matter the most to you in your golden years.

Have a great week!

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Five Ways To Exercise Without Ever Going To The Gym


Jennifer Ledford - Personal Trainer - Fitness & Healthy Lifestyle Coaching - Exercise Without Ever Going To The Gym

Fourteen years ago I was training private clients in gyms.  My job was to help them develop a regular exercise program.  I would put together carefully crafted easy-to-follow exercise programs and even remind them to pack their gym bag the night before.  Despite all of this planning and their motivation to participate, many of my clients would struggle with making it to the gym regularly.  The main reason was TIME.  Notice I said reason and not excuse.  That’s because they would come to me frustrated and I would look at their schedule with them and once I took a look at their calendar I would look them in the eye and say “you’re right, you don’t have time to go to the gym.”  I realized that by the time my clients got dressed, drove across town to the gym and then back home, they could have already finished a solid workout routine.  The gym was not a good fit for them.  So, I started developing in-home programs.  One thing led to another and my private in-home training business was born.

Gyms are a great concept and I have nothing against them but there are many reasons (the time issue being one of them) that only twenty percent of the members will use a gym two to three times per week.  You’ll rarely ever hear a gym tell you they have a waiting list or they are all sold out.   For many people, their gym membership ends up being a monthly charitable contribution that they don’t want to cancel because that will mean they have given up or failed.

If you’re someone that wants to exercise regularly but have a hard time making it to the gym, you are totally normal.  You may be struggling with finding the time to go to the gym or it might make you feel uncomfortable.  Or, maybe it’s because after a long day at work under fluorescent lighting, the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is exercise indoors or be away from your family and/or pets.  Whatever the reason, I give you full permission to cancel your gym membership if you know that you will never use it.

Here Are Five Ways You Can Exercise Without Ever Setting Foot In The Gym

1) Exercise outdoors.  Exercising outdoors has proven to offer even more health benefits than exercising indoors.  A recent study revealed that exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, as well as decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.  Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.

One of my favorite ways to exercise is to walk our four dogs.  I log in several miles per day spending quality time with them.  From time to time I need to motivate myself to get up and go (even personal trainers need a prod now and then) but ninety nine percent of the time I look forward to being outdoors and close to nature with our animals.

2) Buy some cardio equipment.  Consider your own indoor exercise equipment if you have the space for it.  Treadmills, elliptical trainers, and exercise bikes are the most popular and versatile.  Machines are a nice backup for the outdoor exerciser as well.   When it gets a bit snarly outside, I recommend clients hop on their “rainy day” equipment and do a good old-fashioned machine workout. You can try an interval workout to mix things up a bit.

You can buy used equipment with warranties from companies like Play It Again Sports if you’d rather not pay the price for brand new equipment.

3) Jump.  Indoor trampolines are a really great way to burn calories. You will feel like you are playing! This also works your core and leg muscles. Rumor has it that continual use of the trampoline can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Experiment with five minutes of jumping, then alternate to five minutes of high knees rapid marching or stair stepping. Turn on your favorite tunes and do this three times for a total of 30 minutes.

Trampolines are budget-friendly and make great “rainy day” tools as well.

4) Use exercise videos.  Exercise videos are a great way to schedule your workout on demand.  Make sure the routine you choose is appropriate for your level of fitness and don’t do anything that causes pain or you are unsure about.  For access to some of my favorite simple exercises you can do at  home, click on this link.

5) Create a home gym.  Whenever I help a private client set up a home gym, there are some basic pieces of equipment that I consider staples.  My criteria is simple.  The equipment should have multiple functions and be able to be easily stored, especially  if the client does not have one room dedicated to exercise equipment.  This helps cut down on clutter and cost.

One of the most versatile strength training and endurance tools on the market is the TRX Suspension Training System. You can use it to stretch, build strength, increase endurance, improve stability, and develop a great looking physique. The TRX is suitable for beginner to advanced levels of fitness and can be used anywhere. The list price is $199.95 but since I’m a certified TRX trainer the company allows me to share a direct link with you that offers a discount.  Click here for the discounted link.

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TRX HOME Suspension Trainer

You may be someone that likes the gym but realistically can only make it there a few days per week, or you’d like to combine your gym workouts with some in-home or outdoor exercise.  This makes you more of a hybrid.   I recommend using the gym for the things you can’t do at home, like your favorite spin class or the swimming pool.  Then, supplement with your in-home or outdoor routine.

Finding the right exercise routine is personal.  So make sure it fits your lifestyle and it’s something you can sustain stress-free.

To your health!