I saw an ongoing fashion parade in late winter and early spring looking out the window of our home office.
I’ve seen fashionistas walking by in bright pink coats, camouflage vests, and diamond sweaters. One of the fashionable hikers wore trousers.
One day I watched brightly colored boots on four little feet go by.
The dog wasn’t embarrassed in wearing bright orange boots. Incidentally, my dogs would not have had patience with footwear or pants.
I decided that our three dogs were a bit behind the times in fashion during the cold stretch. The thermometer dropped to minus 20 for a while, so they needed warm clothes, I thought.
I took some nice sweaters with me at the end of the season.
Chester wasn’t impressed with his new sweater. We found it in a snow bank in the back yard.
The weather has warmed up. Due to the pedestrian traffic, I think our neighborhood pet population has grown significantly over the past year.
Pet adoption has reportedly increased significantly as people spent more time at home over the past year.
In some animal rescues, the rate of pet adoption increased by 40%.
Many people embraced the companionship of a trusted furry pal. Shelters have often failed to keep up with demand, even when other people left pets behind due to personal budget issues.
While people stayed indoors, pets and humans gained weight. “Pandemic 15” is often cited as a problem that emerged over the past year.
One of my friends, Louis the Dachshund, gained almost 2 pounds. That would be like the average adult gaining 15 pounds.
Following this revelation from our vet, Louis is on a weight loss diet. I changed the size of the food scoop from half a cup to a third cup. He’ll be spending more time in the back yard and going for walks in warmer weather.
Unfortunately, he takes drugs that make him hungry.
He devours his food and then tries to steal his dog brothers’ food. I keep them in separate locations during feeding time, but Louis is sneaky.
Being an amateur “dog dietitian” is a bit difficult.
An exercise and diet partner, whether human or animal, can help maintain motivation to continue exercising and eating healthy.
Pets are good for our health and can encourage increased physical activity.
Michigan State University researchers reported that people who walked their dogs were 34% more likely to meet national physical activity goals. In fact, dog owners averaged 60 minutes more physical activity per week than dog owners.
Of course, not everyone wants to take responsibility for owning pets. When deciding to adopt a pet, you need to consider your own circumstances. Do you have enough space, time, and money to house, feed, and care for a pet?
Of course, you don’t need a pet on a leash to drift down the sidewalk. A human walking companion works well too. Or, put on a pair of earbuds and listen to music on a lonely walk.
According to another Michigan study, having a buddy who is more fit than you can increase your exercise time and intensity by 200%.
Walking can energize you and lift your spirits while you strengthen your bones and tone your muscles. Walking can lower your blood pressure and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
More physical activity can reduce the risk of some cancers. Physical activity can help improve our mental health and sleep better.
Fitness experts recommend that you aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. These are some tips adopted by the Weight Information Network, an information service of the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Check with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner who will encourage and support one another.
Wear shoes with adequate arch support, sturdy heels, and thick, flexible soles. When buying shoes, be sure to walk around the store before taking them home. Try to buy your shoes late in the day when your feet are biggest.
Wear clothing that will keep you dry and comfortable.
Divide your path into three parts. Warm up slowly first, then increase your speed to a brisk walk. Walk fast enough to get your heart rate up while still being able to speak, concentrate, and breathe comfortably. Finally, cool off after your walk.
Break up your walk into several sessions throughout the day if you have a busy schedule. Make sure that each session lasts at least 10 minutes.
Set goals and reward yourself for your progress. Watch a movie, read a magazine, or take the time to do something else that you enjoy.
Track your progress with a running journal, log or calendar. Make a note of the date, time and distance.
Do you fancy a snack? Make your snacks count for healthy eating. By the way, this recipe is not an animal-friendly treat, but whole grain products, nuts and dried fruits are good for us humans. Raisins (and grapes) can be toxic to dogs. Ask your veterinarian for more information about feeding your pet.
Fiesta Snack Mix
1 c. Whole grain cereals with fruits
1 c. Bran of the chex bran type
1 c. Whole grain oat flakes type O.
1/4 c. Raisins or dried cranberries
Mix everything together and place half-cup servings in sandwich bags with locks for quick snacks.
Makes eight servings. Each serving contains 110 calories, 4.5 grams (g) fat, 3 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, and 80 milligrams of sodium.
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., RD, LRD, is a food and nutrition specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension and a professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson