ivv-logoAbout volksmarching

Volksmarch translates from German as “people’s walk.” It is a noncompetitive walk, usually 10k. For those who are unfamiliar, here’s a fuller definition from the website of the American Volkssport Association (AVA):

“A volksmarch is a noncompetitive 3.1 mile (5 km) or 6.2 mile (10 km) walk. It’s not a pledge walk, it’s not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself. Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volkssport Federation, the IVV.”


Volksmarch with your dog

There are a lot of people who love bringing their dogs with them for a volksmarch. And why shouldn’t they? It’s a brilliant idea for both of you to have fun, move together and change the scenery. But, before you plan to do so, please check the specific event rules for each volksmarch. Some may say: “Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times during the walk.” Also, make sure your dog has the appropriate temperament and training.

FMWR hold third annual Volksmarch at Smith Lake
Photo courtesy of Sharilyn Wells/Paraglide


Getting the best out of a volk

smarch with your dog

In order for both you and your dog to take the best out of this amazing walking experience, you need to assure safety and comfortableness.


[custom_list type=”check]

  • Make sure your dog can handle long walks. You can prepare for this by taking him on small walks first, and then increase  the time and pace gradually. If your dog has accompanied you on long walks before but there might have been quite a long time since then, you need to make sure he’s not out of shape in order to prevent serious health problems from arising during, or even after finishing a volksmarch.
  • Think about the temperature. Really hot weather can make your dog just as uncomfortable as you get in such conditions, sometimes even worse.  Before committing to a long walk, make sure you check the forecast  for the whole day. If you think it might get too hot, you can even decide to leave your dog home for the day. Don’t worry, there will always be other opportunities!
  • Make sure you are carrying lots of water for your dog too. Depending on how big or small your dog is, you need to be aware of the right amount of water that he normally needs and that he would need in long walks. This can be based on your own previous experience, but if you are unsure of this, the best way is to ask your vet about the best quantity.
  • Don’t forget to take food for your dog with you. You might be tempted to carry treats and other unhealthy snacks because they seem like an easier option but you don’t have to give up on your dog’s healthy eating routine; you can simply bring his favorite food into zipped packs and decide upon specific times when to feed him.
  • Always use a leash for safety. Even though you know that your dog is friendly and could never do any harm to other runners or dogs, you can’t count on how other dogs are. So, the best thing to do for the safety of your dog is to keep him on a leach at all times.
    Tensed situations between dogs can rapidly excalate, so there might not be enough time to put the leash on your dog in case he gets a face-to-face confrontation with another dog. It’s always good to prevent such things. Don’t worry, your dog can run without a leash in a more intimate and private area, like the back yard of your own house.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s feet and always carry small pet first-aid kit. If the terrain is rough or has large, sharp rocks, make sure your dog’s feet are not cut or injured in any way. It would be preferable to carry your dog over the dangerous parts of the trail and if he is too heavy try to find a safer path for his paws.  If injuries occur along the way, use the first-aid kit that you ought to have. This should consist of at least non-stick pads, gauze, cotton and a bandage.
  • Make sure u check his fur for insects or burrs. If you walk in tall grass you need to check his entire body for ticks and other infects that might have crawled into his fur. Keep Your dog well-groomed to avoid insect infestation.

Some last tips that are very useful:
[custom_list type=”check”]

  • Always pay attention to the surroundings.  There might be dogs that are not very well- mannered, usually in the towns and surrounding areas.
  • If your dog is distressed you should get him to a safe place, don’t push him too hard.

There are many volksmarchers  who usually go with their dogs, and here is  a very detailed blog with photos about this wonderful,  never-ending experience.

And make sure you check out this Paraglide newsletter reporting on the Third Annual Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Volksmarch, when over 200 dogs happily joined their owners

Janna and Fox

I became a regular dog walker almost three years ago, after adopting Fox and Charlie, our two beautiful foxhounds. They were shelter dogs, each with a unique set of quirks and challenges.

Me With My Foxy Lady Fox… She has the most gorgeous eyelashes!

Initially, I viewed dog walking as another daily responsibility, something to keep my dogs healthy and psychologically balanced. As a full-time personal trainer, people assume that I’m constantly moving – but a lot of my job actually involves standing in one spot, watching someone else exercise. I figured, “I’ll get a little more exercise myself, and the dogs will get what they need.”

In a short period of time, these walks came to mean so much more to me. Our walks are a time of meditation for me. They are not the equivalent of walking by myself.

Somehow, the presence and energy of these animals serves as a point of connection – to the wind and to the ground beneath my feet — to my senses in general. It connects me with the natural world through my dogs’ extrasensory awareness of it, and their inability to do anything but live exactly in the present moment. I feel their movement through the leashes and innately respond to it, and it often seems that we find some kind of inexplicable symmetry.

I gain measurable relief from my stress in this time spent moving and being with my dogs, and this benefit carries over to my clients. I tell people that they can’t release their extra weight – in order to use it – until they address their stress. Walking my dogs gives so much more than the calorie burn of walking – it gives me experiences and benefits that nothing else can quite replicate.

Simple guidelines for developing Walking Habits

So, if walking is such an amazing activity, how should you do it? Seems like a weird question right? I mean walking is walking, how complicated can it get? Although this is true, how you should walk still remains a very important question, simply because many people have lots of misconceptions when it comes to this wonderful activity.walking with dogleads to healthy lifestyle

Here are our simple guidelines to get you started with making “walking a habit”:
[custom_list type=”check”]

  • Try and walk a bit everyday, because HOW OFTEN is a lot more important than HOW you walk. The only way to make a new habit it to keep practicing it. This sounds daunting at first. Doing anything everyday almost seems impossible. But there are some things that you probably do, every single day. Brushing your teeth is a simple example. You don’t need to brush your teeth. It’s not something that you “have” to do. Yet you still do it because you know it’s good for you. And by now, it’s likely that brushing your teeth is just something that you do everyday, without thinking about it much.The reason you brush your teeth everyday without thinking much about it is because you have made it a habit. “Habits” are created in our brains through a process called Neuro Plasticity. Basically, when you do something over and over again for a period of time, your brain changes so that it becomes easier to do that thing again in the future. This is what learning really is, and this same principle can be used to help you get in the habit of walking everyday.
  • Get used to planning, because ritual makes habitual. Giving yourself an allocated time to walk everyday is crucial for your success. Let’s go back to the example of brushing your teeth. In all likelihood, you probably do this at the same time everyday, say after breakfast and before bed. It’s this consistency that creates the habit. Doing the same thing at the same time trains your brain to expect that again in the future.Maybe you like the idea of a daily walk but don’t believe you have enough time. You have the same amount of time as every other person – 24 hours a day. You cannot make time but you can manage it. And if you don’t manage to find time for health, you will eventually be forced to find time for illness. Remember those wise words – failure to plan is planning to fail.Establishing the habit is what involves effort – by definition the habit itself is basically effortless.
  • Start thinking of yourself as “an active person.” Daily walking is about avoiding the pitfalls of the sedentary lifestyle. Walking gets you back in the habit of moving again. How can you expect to exercise 3-4 times a week if you can’t even get yourself to walk on those days? Walking is fantastic because it gives you that shift in momentum. After a few months, or even a few weeks, you will begin to hopefully notice a shift in your attitude towards moving your body. Walking reminds you that moving is not something that you “should” or “need” to do but rather something that you want and like to do.Humans are designed to move. In essence, that’s what we do. If you have lost your love for movement, it’s usually not the case that you don’t like it anymore, but rather you have forgotten how fun it can be. Walking is the perfect way to rekindle that connection with yourself, to remind yourself what it means to be human. So, get out into the world and move, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Try not to think as your walk as “exercise.” When you start worrying about walking to burn calories, your brain immediately starts putting walking into the “working” category. Walking is to be enjoyed, and not used as just a way to raise your heart-rate and get you sweating. You don’t need to “power walk” – this can be very hard on your joints. Imagine yourself as a child. When children are in a hurry or want to get somewhere faster, they don’t power walk – neither should you.Many of our clients are interested in “losing weight”. The reality is that you cannot LOSE weight… you must USE weight. One of the nice perks of walking as a form of activity is that it encourages hormones in your body that facilitate fat burning.We also encourage people to try and walk outdoors as much as possible. Treadmills are very convenient but they are no substitute for nature. We live in a world that is filled with machines and gadgets. Technology is terrific but a walk outside is a superb way to regain some balance in your life. Bad weather is nature’s way of helping us value the lovely days. Without the valleys, there are no peaks. Don’t torture yourself, but try and “break the inertia” for at least a little walking everyday.
  • Walk instead of Watch. The average European spends almost 4 hours a day watching television. If you care about calorie burning, you might be interested to know you burn even fewer calories watching television that you do staring off into space. Of course, many people are not entirely inactive while watching television – they eat. There is a strong correlation between time in front of the tube and time mindless munching away. The most common food culprits are sweets and snack foods. Time to walk away from the temptation…
  • Get used to  vary the intensity or distance. Sometimes it is nice to have a destination, a place that you are walking to, but that’s not necessary. Sometimes it’s nice to walk briskly, and sometimes it’s nice to just stroll and take in the world around you. Sometimes it’s nice to walk with your friends and to connect socially. Other times, you may just want some time alone, and heading out for a walk is the perfect activity for that. Walking can be a wonderful time to listen to music or listen to an audiobook.Of course, there are certain situations where, let’s be honest, you just can’t walk everyday. That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything! Planning is still very important here. Try and develop some type of routine. Pick some days – say Monday, Wednesday, Friday – and develop a conscious effort to walk on those days. By doing this, you will gain momentum and hopefully the “feel-good” factor of your walks will encourage you to introduce other days to your routine.
  • Think about your need for a change of direction. Modern conveniences and increasing affluence have put most of us firmly on the path of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. We attempt to remedy the situation by committing ourselves to some sort of exercise program.Unfortunately, the reality is these are rarely sustained. We speed up but then we are forced to rest and we are still on the same course. To stop this downward trajectory, we must change our direction, and that means we must change our habits. All children have the habit of movement – adults have merely been sidetracked. But it’s easy to get back on track – just put one foot in front of the other – every day!

Walking is definitely a step in the right direction!

Read more about walking on DrTheresa.com

Dog walking: A life-long fitness partnership

dog walking is a physical fitness

Expanding waistlines are a real challenge for our society. Not only can our weight make us feel bad  about ourselves, but it gives rise to a host of other health issues, like heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

If the trend of rising obesity continues, it has been estimated that, by the start of the next decade, 75% of adult Americans will be overweight. The good news is that there is a remarkably easy way to lose weight; most of us know it, we just don’t  get around to doing it. There’s no secret to it, it doesn’t cost money and it’s simple: eat healthy food and take some moderate exercise.

The trouble is that many of us can’t motivate ourselves to follow this simple advice. Modern life is fast paced and many of us don’t have the energy to prepare good food and get outside for some fresh air. Exhausted at the end of another busy day, we grab some over-processed fast food, and wile away our free time in front of a screen. Some of us have an unwitting partner in crime: our dog.

America’s dogs are suffering an obesity epidemic too. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that over 50% of the nation’s dogs are obese. Why? Well, we feed them over-processed cheap kibble, and then, because we are tired, we short-change them on their walks.

Many of us have large yards and it’s an easy assumption to make that the dog is managing to get enough exercise out there on its own. Or, feeling guilty, we compensate by over-feeding them. Worse, some dogs find themselves handed over to shelters when their boredom spills out into unwanted behavior. It can happen all too easily but thankfully there is a solution.

Weight Waggers are here to get you and your dog off the couch and out the front door together. Dog walking shouldn’t be yet another chore in your jam‐packed life. We are going to show you that it can be an enjoyable, energizing activity that sparks vitality and sets both you and your dog up for life-long health. It will become a habit, but one that you can actually enjoy!

You’re never going to find a more motivated and enthusiastic training buddy than your dog. Studies show that people who start walking for health are far more likely to stick to their new activity if they have a dog for a companion,  than those who walk alone, or even those who choose a human buddy. All the two of you have to do is step out together for a walk every day, and soon you will both be reaping the health rewards. It really is that simple!

Do it for the dog, do it for you

walking the dog leads to healty people and healty dogPeople start to walk for all sorts of reasons. They know that it’s healthy and they need to stay active. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we work, our effort and energy are measured by our motivation.

When we’re doing things for ourselves, to be healthy and fit, we can easily slide. But when we’re asked to perform for someone else, when the motivation is external, we rise to the occasion. We even go above and beyond.

When you’re deciding to walk your dog, don’t think about it as something you’re only doing for yourself or only for your four-legged friend. The relationship helps both of you.

Here’s a startling statistic: more than 50% of dogs are overweight. Like people, they’re overfed and under-exercised. When you take a dog out on a walk, you’re participating to the of their natural instincts to explore. It stimulates their brains and keeps them happy. Walks keep the dog calm and help them bond with you as well.

Rather than simply letting your furry friend out into the yard, take a stroll together through the neighborhood. You’ll get benefit from the physical activity, true, but you’ll also have the knowledge that you’re doing a good thing for your pet. The happiness of your pet is a great reason to get moving.

But remember, when you walk your dog, you’re not only helping THEM stay active and fit, you’re also doing the same for YOURSELF! You get the same benefits your dog gets from walking.

Regular walks will reduce stress and inflammation, burn calories and lower cholesterol levels. Walking helps maintain weight loss over the long term and reduces the risk of diabetes by a third. All that just from walking and spending time outside with a perfect support system. The dog is always going to help you stay fit as long as they get to have some of the fun.

Motivational dogs

It’s easier to start a fitness regime with someone to back you up, someone who will support you and push you to go further. Someone who drags you out even if you don’t feel up to it. In that spirit, a dog is by far the best workout partner you can ever have. People who have dogs are more motivated to walk.your dog gives all the motivation you need

Dogs are better partners than other people, because they will always be excited to go out. They’ll push you to it. Unlike other people who might train with you, a dog can’t make excuses and skip a workout. And the dog won’t listen to your excuses either. It will want to go out regardless of how you’re feeling. That’s a level of commitment that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Going to the gym can feel like a chore, but when you’re going out with your pup, you find that it doesn’t feel like exercise anymore. Your motivation is right with you, tugging at the leash. It’s been shown that people who walk their dogs, walk more than people who walk for the exercise alone.

The end result of this activity is pretty extraordinary. Pet owners who regularly walk their dogs are 42% more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who don’t. Three 20 minute walks will give you an hour’s worth of activity during the day.

Research has found that people who walk their dogs get more exercise than with a gym membership. On average, pet owners exercise their animals two times for about 24 minutes. Each week, they get five hours and 38 minutes of physical activity. People without dogs average only an hour and 20 minutes of exercise per week. That’s a significant difference.

Dogs have had human companions for generations. They’ve helped us survive the most difficult times. Now, they can help us by training us too. We can learn from them how to find the energy and the right motivation to get active. They will change our brains and reform our habits.

A doggy workout partner will keep you faithful in your routine, so you can both be happy and healthy!