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Exercise, Nutrition, and Brain Games Make Your Dog Smarter. You Too!

Smart dogs Kila and Sydney digging

We just know there’s a giveaway prize from Dognition somewhere near.

Do Smart People Have Smart Dogs?

Who wouldn’t mind an easy way to increase your health and fitness levels, reduce stress, AND improve your brain? Hint: the answer involves a lick, leash, and lots o’ love. Yup, be a dog owner.

Did you know that dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart attacks, and totally increased guilt levels when you don’t walk them. I made up that last “benefit.” All the other results (and more) are supported by science.

Dog owners are likely to have lower blood pressure, more active social lives, fewer heart attacks AND be smarter Click To Tweet

As our long time readers know, I am a two dog person (see My Naughty Dog Story, though it may not be the highlight of dog ownership come to think of it….) Just added two kittens to the household as well, for balance’s sake. I am balancing my dogs’ perception that I am the most exciting, beloved, wonderful human ever to grace the planet with the cats’ attitude that I exist to adjust their crowns. Keeps me confidently humble.

Prized Pooch and a Prize for Your Pooch

By the way, stick around to the end of this post because one of you is going to win a prize for your pooch. More on that in a minute or about 7 minutes in dog years.

Want to win a prize for your pooch? Enter our giveaway #mysmartdog @ProPlan #ad @PurinaPro Click To Tweet
Smart dogs Sydney on rock

Wish I’d been smart enough NOT to jump out that window and hurt my knee. Grrrr

Another thing long time readers of our blog probably noticed is that I am totally jazzed about the ways that exercise confers to humans better memory, cognition, and brain volume. What??!! You missed those posts? Get smarter right here and now by taking a gander at the following (right after you finish this post).

 Move Your Body to Improve Your Brain 

 Spark Your Brain with Exercise

It’s true that people who own dogs tend to be more active. Makes sense since we tend to walk our dogs and play with them. Did you know that dogs also enhance our mental wellbeing? Canine fit fact – dogs improve our mood, decrease depression, and increase happiness.

Walk to Lose Weight and Gain Fitness

Our Dogs Make Us Smarter; Can We Make Our Dogs Smarter?

But let’s turn that around for a moment. Can we help make our dogs smarter and happier? I know, I know. You already own the SMARTEST, BEST, HAPPIEST dog in the world. Except you don’t, because I do.  Wanna see pictures of my smart dogs? 

Smart dogs, Kila in tree

Look at me in this tree. Do I earn a “treeeeat?”

Back to the matter at hand paw — unless you’ve been out walking your dog in the wilderness for a decade where no wifi exists, you know that what we eat and what we do impacts our mental and physical health. Did you know that the same is true for dogs? Scientists at Nestle Purina have been studying aging in pets for more than a decade and discovered that nutrition can positively impact a dog’s cognitive health. Who knew? I had not. Based on their research results, Purina Pro Plan did two things:

  1. It introduced Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult formulas that feature a proprietary blend of brain-supporting nutrients that support cognitive health in adult dogs. That blend includes enhanced botanical oils, so now my dogs, Kila and Sydney are making spa appointments. Darn, they’re clever!
  2. It partnered up with Dognition, an online platform that offers fun, science-based games that reveal the unique way each dog sees the world.  Dognition asks you a bunch of questions about your pet — and who doesn’t like to talk about your dog, eh? Based on your dog’s profile, you get a bunch of suggested activities tailored to your furbaby’s personality and temperament.  I tried a few of these games with Kila and we both had a ball. (Sydney is currently recovering from knee surgery so he is on limited activity. Yes, he and my sister had knee surgery this summer. They say dogs resemble their owners, but apparently a certain dog wanted to be like his Auntie Alexandra. You know, driven around town with the wind in her/ his face and chin up…..)

Well actually Purina and Dognition did three things, as they also sponsored this post. Bark alert! Full disclosure that I partnered with Dognition and Purina  to bring you this info. Of course I said yes, because what dog lover doesn’t want to combine food and fun for a smarter, healthier pooch?

smart dogAnyway, as part of the partnership, dog owners who purchase  Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult or Adult 7+ dry dog food at select pet specialty retailers can receive a FREE Dognition Assessment code, a $19 value, with proof of purchase. Find out more here: Dognition/ BRIGHTMIND  OOooorr, as I mentioned earlier, you might WIN that code free. Keep reading.

Canine Fun Fact

Let’s end this dog tale with a tail wag after another Canine Fun Fact: If like Kila, your dog ever did something naughty, you might get “that look” that seems to say “Oops, sorry, I am so regretful.” Except dogs don’t live in regret. That sad face with head down and ears back?? — your dog is playing you. A study found that owners who think their dogs feel guilty don’t scold them as much.  

Told you dogs were smart. Now go play, instead of getting played.  Oh, and learn enough to stay ahead of your dog by checking out this infographic and entering our giveaway. So barkalicious!


smart dogs


Comment Disclosure: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

GIVEAWAY! If you want to win free access to Dognition (believe me, you do want to dig around in this site!) then enter a comment below about an activity your dog loves. If you don’t own a dog, why not? I’ll be selecting the winner on or before July 30, 2016. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Purina Pro BRIGHT MIND.  The opinions and text are all mine.

Kymberly Williams-Evans
















Flavor Your Summer with Stuff that Starts with “A”: Road Trip!

Gotta be in it to win it!

Give outrigger paddling a go when in Santa Barbara, CA

Adventure, Activity, Almonds, Animals

Ready to bring your “A” game on a road trip up the California coast? What do these grade A words have in common? They are all part of my midlife summer excitement and active aging life. I wrapped up my first year as an outrigger paddler with sprint races. Next adventure? Hit the road from Santa Barbara to Eureka, CA with my husband and dog for vacation. In between were the IDEA Health and Fitness Convention, an airport good-bye to my daughter for a year, and lots of group fitness classes. What fun A level actions are you putting into play this season? How have your summer vacation expectations changed since you were younger?

All Aboard Mateys

harbor with boats

End of the paddle season and where my vacation started

On my recent sprint race, I realized that all my canoe mates were between 24 and 35. The 40, 50, and 60 year olds were absent from our crew that weekend. So I represented for my age group with pride and power! Being able to contribute to my team while two to three decades’ older was a great feeling. Not only did I hold my own, but our boat did its best of the season. Have you ever been the lone baby boomer or older adult in a crowd of youngsters? If so, what did you experience?.

Dog Days of Summer

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 2.58.09 AM

Kila took this picture in Northern California. I did say she was the smartest dog ever.

The day after our paddling sprint season ended, we (the hubster and I) packed up and headed on our coastal Road Trip! For the first time, we brought our dogger wogger, the princess pooch, Ace Queen of the canine world. This decision meant organizing our driving days around lots of stops and dog walks. What a great idea this turned out to be.

Rather than hit the main tourist attractions–or anything involving a long, hot, wait in the car for our girl, Kila–we ferreted out hikes, trails, and scenic walks off the beaten path. We were also “required” to stop and get out of the car often to accommodate “she who wags her tail and needs bathroom breaks.” Yes, it’s all about our four legged girl! Animal Numero Uno.

Hot fitness tip:  If you ever want to be sure to work exercise and physical Activity into your car vacations, simply take a young dog with you!

Road Snacks

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 2.20.18 AM

NOOOoooo, Not your best road trip snack choices

Blue Diamond at the garage sale

YEEssss, these are packable, portable road snacks (that my dog does not try to beg from me)

Also take healthy road snacks. Don’t buy road trip foodstuffs where you fill up with gas or where the food gets handed to you through a window. Hit your grocery store and farmer’s market beforehand (some really good ones in Sebastopol FYI). In our case, we packed fruit, popcorn, sweet bell peppers, and Almonds (thanks Blue Diamond, who is sponsoring this post and helped us stay healthy and satiated as we motored up Highway 1!).  Believe me, if you have just polished off a handful of almonds or a baggie of cherries, you are not going to be tempted by the doughnut shops that line all roads, highways, and byways. Ok, I might be tempted, but since I was not hungry, I didn’t give in to that temptation. How about you?

Anyway, enough nattering on about my summer season that was seasoned with flavorful A words. It’s time to share a few pictures of my summer Adventure. Then to get to sleep so I am ready for more Action tomorrow. But no doughnuts.

Kila on beach

Frolicking at Pismo Beach, CA where you’ll find loads of sand dollars


Bow WOW, this sign from Point Arena, CA is Barkalicious!

Elephant Seals Molting in the Melting Sun

Elephant Seals Molting in the Melting Sun in Cambria


Day 3 Ends Well in Northern Calif

Day 3 Ends Well in Northern Calif


Blue Diamond, Ahnu, IDEA notebook

Ready to Inspire, Connect, Transform with my Ahnus, Almonds, and IDEA notebook

ACTION: Subscribe to our blog if you have not yet done so. Best road trip ever!

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.



Midlife Fitness and Health Lessons from My Dog

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Kila Evans, WP (Wonder Pooch)

Tips to a More Fit, Happier Life: Advice From a Dog

Best dog posing on tree stump

Top Dog Advisor to Boom Chicka Boomers

Dog lovers among you (including non-dog owners who love people who love dogs. Still with me?) — what words would you use to describe a dog you love? Enthusiastic? Loyal? Patient? Energetic? Cuddly? Optimistic? Aren’t these all great attributes that contribute to a healthy, happy, active you as well? Today, as I was walking my dog empty nest replacement, Kila I started thinking about how we humans could emulate a dog’s outlook to increase our Boom Chicka Boomer midlife quality.

Since I fashion myself as the ultimate dog and kitty whisperer (sorry, horses, but I am a little intimidated by you), I interpreted Kila’s daily thoughts to share. If we take her approach, we might just improve our fitness, health, and mood. Move over menopause; time for puppy paws!

Kila: Morning wake-up time? How exciting! This day looks like it’s going to be the Best One Ever!

I'm Outstanding in My Field!

I’m Outstanding in My Field!

Suggestion: Do a mood and energy check as you wake up. What thoughts go through your mind as you transition from sleep to wake; from lying down to rising to greet the day? I find that if I literally spring out of bed and go into another room, my day starts well and continues on that path. If I have my iPhone near my bed and start checking email, then the morning slips away from me while my mood shifts to feeling overwhelmed. With Kila’s approach, both my body and my mood get up and make for a better day!

Kila: Walk time? I love walks! Always something to see, smell, check out, and enjoy.

Suggestion: Walking, whether outdoors, at a local mall, or indoors on cardio equipment is an easy, no cost, comfortable way to add more activity into your day. Walking, powerwalking, dogwalking all lead to:

  • increased lifespan
  • improved cardiovascular health
  • weight loss
  • uplifted mood
  • enhanced mental acuity

Click on the links to learn more about how easy it is to reap the benefits of walking. Plus get some Fun Fit Facts and Stats you can use to impress yourself and others (when out taking a walk, hinty hint). Walk Your Way to Weight Loss, Health, and Fitness and Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.

Kila: I love to run! Go dog go! Or is that “go me go?” Every so often, I just gotta run my fastest and hardest even if just for a minute or two.

Run Forrest, Run (or is that Run, Beach, Run)

Run Forrest, Run (or is that Run, Beach, Run)

Suggestion: Follow Kila’s lead (get it?), and perform some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). HIIT is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight. In short, alternate your cardio workouts between high intensity, all out sprints lasting 20-120 seconds with active rest lasting 60 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your goals, fitness level, and intensity level of your sprint interval. Total HIIT cardio workout time lasts as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30. If you can go longer, then your high intensity intervals were not high enough and need to come up. Think of Kila or a dog you know who runs FULL OUT for a short burst, then reverts to a lope or trot. Kila calls this “bird chasing time” not HIIT and she’s one lean, fast, happy gal!

As for me, I am finally taking my own advice (check out our post: Crank Up Your Metabolism) and adding 15 minute HIIT workouts to my weekly routine starting three days’ ago. Knowing me, I have to schedule these bursts after teaching my group fitness classes otherwise I will procrastinate. Stay tuned to our posts to see whether these elliptical cardio add-ins start pulling off the midlife ell-bees I put on. (Thank you hormones!)

Kila: I love my sleep time. When I curl up on my bed I conk right out, sleep deeply for a little bit, then wake up ready to go dog go!

Dog doing push ups

Just whipping out a few Pawshups

Suggestion: Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep per night. If you cannot manage that, then give yourself permission, time, and place to take a nap. Nappers and good sleepers tend to be more creative, have better memory and cognitive skills, and keep weight off more successfully than those who are sleep deprived. Even a 6 minute nap brings benefits. Read more about it by clicking Sleep Your Way to A Better Brain and Body. Does Kila ever feel guilty or ambivalent about taking a nap or two or thirteen each day? Nevah! Walk-run-eat-drink-poop-sleep-repeat.

Kila listening

I’m All Ears (and Nose)

Kila: I understand my people better if I focus solely on them when they talk to me.

Suggestion: Note to self — try this with the hubster, loved ones, friends, colleagues, and pretty much everyone I talk with today. I know I like it when I feel listened to with intent and attention.

Kila: If the cats want the food I left in my bowl, that’s ok with me. I ate the amount I wanted and am not hungry anymore.

Suggestion: If you are a member of the Clean Plate club, do not renew your dues. Stop eating slightly before you feel full. (Who else was raised with the phrase “Think of the poor children starving in China.”) If you are done eating, stop even if you still have food left. (If Kila is still hungry, she’ll clean your plate for you and skip her kibbly bits.)

Kila walking at Lake los Carneros

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Kila: Water is sooooo delicious and my “go to” drink.

Suggestion: Not soda, not lattes, not sugary “juice drink” which is not really juice. Water up first then look at other beneficial drink options.

Kila: Treats? I love treats, even the ones my guardians call healthy. (Sure wish they’d let me have some chocolate once in a while though. Something about it not being safe for me).

Suggestion: Forget guilt. If you’ve followed Kila’s “advice” you don’t need to berate or deny yourself that occasional treat to still be healthy, fit, and happy.

Kila: I love people; I love things that fly; I love other dogs that like to race; I love my guardians; I love letting them all know that I love them by licking them and running up to them with enthusiasm and excitement and adoration in my eyes.

Suggestion: How do you let the people you love know that every day? Words? Actions? (Probably best to skip licking and jumping up on your loved ones though). I can definitely learn from Kila in this area. (Love you family and friends reading this! Wagging tail as I type).

Kila: When called, I come.

Question: Who or What is calling you? Are you able to listen and follow that calling? If not, come walk with Kila and me. She’ll inspire you! ‘Nuff said. Or more accurately “Ruff,” my wonder pooch said.

I'm Outstanding in My Field

“Does this collar hide my neck wattle?” thought Kila never.

Dog on mountain boulders

I’m Dog of the Mountain!

Readers: If you like animals (and it is National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month) then you might enjoy this fun and fit cat exercise post. Click the link purrfectly!: Animal Desire.

Hark and bark! It’s time to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? (Are you waiting until it’s no longer National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month?)  Please also follow us on google+ +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

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