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How to keep fit and healthy with your dog

How to keep fit and healthy with your dog

Can I just ask...what has gotten in to some people?

Double Iron Men, Tough Mudders, Ultra-marathons, Triathlons, Duathlons, LEJOG, JOGLE, 10-peaks, etc, etc.


They are literally riddled with the need to compete against their peers on a super-human basis these days; prancing about in Lycra like never before.

I am, of course, profoundly in awe of anyone who's blessed with the fitness abilities and mental stamina to undertake the aforementioned physical challenges.

Take my friend Vikki Johnston for example.

Not only is she a massive animal-lover, breeder of flatcoat retrievers and mother of twins, but four years ago, at the ripe old age of 42, she did her first triathlon having never professionally competed or even sat on a road bike before.

Last year she qualified for the ACTUAL Team GB for her age group, competing in the World Series Triathlon (the same one where Alistair Brownlee famously helped his brother Jonny over the finish line), two World Duathlons and one European Duathlon and is now placed 10th in the world!


What Vikki can do with a bike, a pair of trainers and a wet suit is quite astonishing.

Vikki competing in the Triathlon World Series in Mexico, 2016.

For me it really begs the question, what is age these days? I swear I'm fitter than I was 20 years ago. In fact this summer I did my first ever backflip into a swimming pool...at 48 years old! I'd have doubted that this event actually took place, if photographic evidence didn't exist.

So, the point I'm making here isn't a radical or new one. It's simply that exercise (in whichever shape or form) is the best tonic to keep your mind and body healthier than a spring chicken on a spa day; and at least 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise is apparently a good starting point.

If you wanted to push yourself a bit further than the 30 minutes (but perhaps not quite as far as Vikki), why not combine your exercise with that of your dog's and go for a daily run? Killing two birds, as it were...

Husband and son out for a morning run.

People always say to us, 'WHAT, you run your bulldog?' like that's a total impossibility. Well here's the thing, bulldogs don't have to be overweight lumps of love whose only exercise is the path between sofa and kitchen.

I have no idea why owners mistake an overweight bulldog as a sign of a beefy-looking 'traditional' bulldog, but unfortunately in the UK right now bulldogs are suffering from major health issues, largely due to in-breeding but often down to poor diet and terrible exercise regimes.

Fed on the right diet (raw and natural, in my opinion), you can be the proud owner of a super fit furry athlete and will get some surprisingly good mileage out of those stumpy little legs!

Shapely in all the right places.

Of course, we are always very mindful of Frank's health and when to run him.

If you are thinking of doing something similar you must always wait until they are old enough (18 months plus) so that their bones and muscles have fully developed. No running in full sun or on a hot summer's day. No running if your bulldog is showing signs of distress or injury. And no running if you can clearly see that he's gasping for his last breath.

I used to be of the opinion that it makes sense to get a dog that matches your fitness levels, but how could you deny less able or elderly people with mobility issues the love of a dog, and if that means simply throwing a ball from your back door down the garden every day, and the dog is clearly loving the play, then that's brilliant too.

Incidentally, did you know that greyhounds, the fastest dog on the planet, are also the laziest? A greyhound will sleep up to 20 hours a day, given the chance. 

Sign me up for that greyhound reincarnation programme please.


N.B. In the UK every year around 8,000 Racing Greyhounds are retired and end up at shelters and dogs trusts. If you are looking for the perfect family pet please consider adopting a Greyhound.

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