Exactly one month ago I adopted a new dog, a 3-year old, 20 pound mixed breed named Boots, after my previous canine companion of 16 years, Gabi, passed away.
One of the major differences in the two dogs is that Gabi used the ‘puppy pads’ I put down in my apartment. So I only had to walk her three times a day, pretty much at my convenience. My new guy, Boots, doesn’t understand the pads, so I need to walk him four times a day and on a schedule which includes a first walk at 4:00 a.m.
Additionally, Boots is a high energy little guy, so our walks always amount to one mile. Gabi, on the other hand, was aging and barely able to complete a walk of just over a half mile. So, by a process of rapid calculation, I have gone from walking around 1.5 miles a day to four miles a day … every day.
With Gabi, I was able to ride my bike from 100 to 125 miles a week. Now, however, with my new walking schedule, I have had to cut back biking to just under 100 miles. In case you forgot, I am 82 years old. I have only had Boots since May 19, so the whole walking/biking experience remains a work in progress.
Clearly, in this situation, I had to wonder, how do the two types of exercise compare?
As I am sure you realize, walking a dog is not a high cardio experience. Our mile walks average around 30 minutes each. Keep in mind that walking is weight-bearing exercise while bike riding is not, so the walking is a plus for my skeleton, if a bit of a minus on the cardio side.
Another plus for walking is that it requires no equipment. I just go out. To ride my bike, I need to own a bike and keep it in good running condition. That entails logistical and financial outlays.
The following is an interesting comparison that may be relevant to you in evaluating the two. It is not so much to me.
We Love Cycling reported that Researchers from London investigated the relationship between various commuting methods and obesity risk. Data from 150,000 participants revealed that both walking and cycling showed better results than taking a car or public transport. Walking was associated with significantly reduced BMI and body fat, but to a lesser extent than cycling. The average study participant who cycled to work would weigh about 5 kg less than a similar person commuting by car.
So, while I prefer cycling to walking, I have cut back on it because I need to walk more. The big plus, of course, is that I have a fun new dog in my life filling the void left by Gabi’s passing. I consider myself fortunate to live on the gorgeous Chicago lakefront and love riding my bike and walking my dog there.
Lastly, I have learned that while I knew a lot about one dog, that did not necessarily translate to knowing a lot about all dogs. Boots has been teaching me that he is a very different pooch.
I would like to add two final observations as a result of our first month together. I now have total appreciation of the pleasure of simply lying down in bed at any time. Secondly, I seem to be developing the ability to go back to sleep after finishing the 4:00 a.m. walk.
I included the lakefront photos at 4:00 a.m. because I think they are beautiful. I consider myself very fortunate to live on Chicago’s lakefront.