Embrace Nature’s Gym: Health and Fitness Breaks for You & Your Dog

The new year is a great time for positive change. So put your best foot, and paw, forward to boost your health and wellbeing in 2024. Here are a few ideas for fitness breaks with your dog throughout the UK to kickstart your good intentions. 

Mountain Biking with your Mutt

There are plenty of cycle trails in the UK where your dog can join you freewheeling from the coast to the countryside, including Cornwall’s Camel Trail and Devon’s Tarka Trail. However, if you prefer muddy paws, muddy tyres and a full-throttle adventure with your four-legged friend, get in the saddle on some of the country’s finest mountain bike trails. While it’s wise to steer clear of busier bike routes if you’re taking a dog, you will find quieter trails in Somerset’s Quantock Hills, Dartmoor National Park and the Lake District

Coastal Running with your Four-Legged Friend

Up the ante on your walkies and raise your heart rate on a coastal run with your hound at your heels. From the South West Coast Path to sections of Scotland’s North Coast 500, there are hundreds of miles of coastal trails beckoning you to don your trainers and break into a jog with your dog. The Isle of Wight Coastal Path is 70 miles long and hugs the island’s divine landscapes, from coves to clifftops. Divided into six distinct sections, you could split it into daily chunks over a week’s break, or just try one segment as an activity on your holiday.

Paddleboarding with your Pooch

Stand-up paddleboarding is one of Britain’s fastest-growing watersports, and it hones your core and arm muscles with a low-impact workout. And in flat water, with a little preparation, it’s fairly easy to take Fido on your adventures afloat. Make sure you use a doggy lifejacket, practise close to the shore while you both find your salty sea-dog legs, and ensure any coastal explorations include plenty of hopping-off spots for your hound. Once you’ve got the knack of it, you’re free to explore the nooks and crannies of our beautiful waterways, from Scotland and the Lake District to Wales and the Wye Valley. 

Hiking with your Hound

The descent from The Old Man of Coniston
The descent from The Old Man of Coniston. Photo by Elliot Walker

Most holidays with your dog will be focussed on waggy-tailed walkies in stunning scenery. But if you’re serious about stepping up your fitness, why not take on a serious hike with your hound at your heels? Challenge yourself to scale Wales’ highest peak as you take on the mighty Snowdon, or boost your step count along the 52-mile Herriot Way, a four-day circular named after Yorkshire’s most famous vet and author. And if that doesn’t tire you and your dog out, we’ve got plenty more walks to try, too.

Wild Swimming with your Dog

Sea swimming with a dog

Plunging into cold water has all sorts of benefits for you – and your dog – from reducing inflammation to alleviating stress and improving mood. Regardless of its scientific perks, taking a dip with your doggie is simply great fun. We love the Lake District for its abundance of dog-friendly swimming spots, and you’ll no doubt be lured into Cornwall’s sea pools and hidden coves as you’re bounding along coastal trails in the South West. In fact, from the tip to the toe of Britain, there are some delightful places to take the plunge with your pooch, including rivers, lakes and tidal pools. 

Flyball with your Furry Friend

A Golden Retriever playing Flyball. Photo by Flickr user Jaye Whitmire

Have you got a passion for dogs and sport? Then it’s likely you’ve already heard of flyball. This energetic, fast-paced and addictive sport for all ages and abilities is the ultimate way for humans and canines to have fun and get fit together. Hurdles, training and chasing all go into the course, and many centres throughout the UK offer taster sessions and competitive leagues. Castaway to the Isle of Mull on the west coast of Scotland, where Paws by the Loch Dog Training run individual and group sessions where you can learn the sport of flyball together.

Kayaking with your Canine Companion

Kayaking with your dog is a fantastic way to explore Britain’s lakes, lochs and coastline. And a kayak is a little safer and more comfortable than a paddleboard for your canine companion. Head off on a dog-friendly guided kayak tour in Devon, or paddle between the towering fells of The Lake District, where established operators such as Windermere Kayak and Canoe allow you to take your hound onboard. 

Book an active break with your dog in 2024

Can’t wait to kick off your New Year health and fitness goals? Time then to put down the mince pies and book one of our dog-friendly cottages for a healthy holiday with your hound. 

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