The motivation to exercise doesn't always come easily, especially when you are pregnant. However, a study shows that pregnant women are more likely to maintain an exercise regimen when they have the help of an in-home workout buddy: their dog.
University of Liverpool researchers found that pregnant women with dogs are 50 percent more likely to actually fulfill the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day.
"Findings suggest that ownership of a dog provides some motivation to go for a walk, even during pregnancy," according to Dr. Carrie Westgarth, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health.
However, while the exercise can help keep both mother and baby healthy during and after pregnancy, it's best to proceed with caution.
"Safety first. Consult with your doctor about how much stress you can take," says Marc Goldberg, owner of chicagodogtrainer.com, which trains dogs all over the Chicago area.
If you have a big dog, he recommended forgoing a harness since they attach to the dog where he is strongest. Using a harness could turn the walk into a "contest of strength," a dangerous battle to undertake when you are pregnant. Opt for a training collar instead, he says.
For little dogs, he says, "Put the retractable leash away." The leashes are empowering to the dog and not the handler. Since owners have a larger risk of being tripped up by their little dogs, it's best to stay as in control as possible.