Updated: December 08, 2016

By Tina Haupert

Somedays, I'm just not in the mood to exercise. But even if I feel tired (or just plain lazy), my best workout buddy always seems able to get me out of the house for a workout. For me, the secret to adding activity to my daily routine is spending time with my pug, Murphy.

Exercising with my dog keeps us both fit, healthy, and happy. In fact, dogs topped Health magazine's list of America's Healthiest Pets. Murphy and I enjoy our time together while improving our strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular ability, which ultimately leads to fewer doctor (and vet!) visits. I've noticed that on days when Murphy gets a good amount of exercise, he's much better behaved. His pent-up energy isn't spent on doggie destructiveness around the house!

Even though Murphy is a short-legged, stocky pug, he loves long walks around the neighborhood and running around in the park. His compact body is built for both short energy bursts and steady-paced walks. We usually walk together for 45 to 60 minutes, but on occasion, we'll walk more than an hour and cover nearly three miles together. Murphy is one buff pug!

Here are a few strategies that help me stay active with my dog:

Make a doggie date
Every day after lunch, Murphy and I have a standing date to go for a long walk. Even when I'm really not inclined to exercise, the thought of letting down my furry friend always motivates me to lace up my sneakers. I can't stand to see a sad pug face!

Add a change of scenery
Instead of just taking Murphy outside to relieve himself in the afternoon, I vary our walking routes around our neighborhood. The change of scenery keeps things interesting for the both of us, so our walks don't get boring. Plus, it's a fun opportunity to bump into our neighbors—both human and canine!

Vary the pace
During our walks, I kick up our cardio workout by adding intervals. I typically pick up our pace and speed walk or jog for three to five minutes along with Murphy before returning to our normal strolling pace. Murphy loves this and always seems to think it's a game.

Practice makes perfect
To keep things interesting, I stop a couple of times along our daily walk to practice obedience commands and fun tricks with Murphy. Doing this reinforces his doggie focus and provides him with a varied workout, so when he comes inside, he is ready to relax. Plus, it also adds some variety to my workout and typically encourages me to extend the duration of our walk.

Play fetch
On the days we make it to the park, I further increase my calorie burn by playing fetch with Murphy. I throw his tennis ball to him, and then race to grab it before he gets it. Murphy, almost without fail, beats me to the ball, but it's still fun to try! I repeat this action over and over until we're both tired. Even still, we always leave the park with smiles on our faces.

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.