There was a lot of us to love, so my dog and I put down the Fiddle-Faddle and fiddled with fitness tech.
by Karen Sommerfeld
That was eight years ago, and this mutt and I are creeping toward middle age. Hips don’t lie, and I decided we could both start making our routine a little healthier. Tallulah and I already walk every day, so why not stop strolling like we’re on a promenade with our parasols, and start making it count?
Here are some of the tools I’m using to get us in shape:
The tool: MapMyDogWalk app
Why we give it “two paws up”: This app showed me routes people had taken in my neighborhood, ranging from one mile to more than 10. I loved seeing all those, but we’re trailblazers. We mapped out our own walk instead. I hit Start when we did, and it turns out our regular route is 1.45 miles. I was mortified to discover that it took us 35 minutes and we burned only 137 calories—the equivalent of two cookies!
Outcome: Just knowing our real time and distance helped us pick up the pace and walk further and faster.
Why we give it “two paws up”: Tallulah shared screen shots of her MapMyDogWalk results to her 580 Facebook friends. (Don’t tell her I told you, but I did all the work while she flumped tiredly on the floor by my bed. Turns out I’ve got more stamina than her.) Those screen shots got a lot of “Go, Talu!” and “Work it, girl!” responses.
Outcome: Encouraging comments and Likes made us want to do better each day. Peer pressure is an excellent motivator for showoffs like us.
The tool: The HTC One® M9
Why we give it “two paws up”: The M9 shows the dog-walking app’s stats even when it’s in sleep mode. When I couldn’t figure out how to report our results straight from the app to Facebook, I took a screen shot (press the power and volume down key at once) and just pulled down the toolbar at the top of my screen, and there was my saved screen shot. Boom. Our walk was on Tallulah’s Facebook page in seconds. And when Tallulah looked cute on our walks, all I had to do was sweep my finger on the camera icon, and I could get a quick snap of her.
Outcome: Being able to see our pace and distance by just glancing at the phone really made a difference. Sometimes instead of turning toward home as I’d planned, I’d add a few more brisk blocks to the walk.
The tool: Fitbit Flex™
Why we give it “two paws up”: I bought this a few months back, and I’ve mostly just used it to see how I sleep. (Sleep is exercise, right?) But I started using it on our walks, and now I’m recording about 10,000 steps each day—sometimes more—which means so is my dog. You have no idea how satisfying that little “You’ve taken 10,000 steps!” buzz is on my wrist. Nearly as satisfying as a big bowl of ice cream.
Outcome: I’ve just about doubled the number of steps I take each day.
Since our walks got serious, we’ve gotten a few compliments. The vet noticed Tallulah was looking healthier and a few friends have said I’m looking good as well. Armed with our gadgets and apps, we’ve given new meaning to the term, “Walk it off,” and now look less like pudgy Shar-Peis and more like lean Greyhounds.
Now if we could only get someone to develop a device to immediately turn ice cream and cookies into muscle as soon as they’re inhaled, we’d be set.