Research frequently notes the many health and wellness benefits of dog ownership. Owning a dog increases activity levels, improves mood, and serves to provide a host of other healthy benefits. In addition to signs of improved well-being, older dog owners also show signs of youthfulness. Could owning a dog help you or someone you know find a Fountain of Youth? Check out five ways owning a dog makes older people feel much younger.
Dogs keep owners physically active. Physical activity at any age helps maintain a healthy body weight, keeps energy levels up, reduces the risk of certain heart and cardiovascular disease and even releases tension and anxiety. A dog owner who regularly exercises with his dog strengthens the body and the spirit, feeling younger in the process.
Dogs make their owners smile. The old cliché about laughter being the best medicine has a legitimate scientific basis. Researchers at Ohio State University show that laughter and smiling improve a person's quality of life by releasing negative influences and tension. Dog owners find themselves smiling and laughing at the antics of the furry, best friend. It is hard to greet a smiling dog and his wagging tail without stress relieving smiles. What better way to return to those carefree days of youth than with carefree laughs and smiles?
Dogs help owners relax. Researchers accept that dogs offer different things to different people, but that relaxation is a constant side effect of dog ownership. Perhaps there is simply something soothing about touching and petting a dog. Maybe the dog helps owners relax by forcing physical and social interaction. Either way, relaxation helps owners rest , and it rejuvenates the mind and body. A rested mind and body feels younger and better prepared for the day.
Dogs keep their owners socially active. Loneliness and isolation sometimes comes with age. Being out and about becomes difficult due to health or transportation issues for older adults. Dogs keep owners from falling into lonely depression. People with dogs have a constant companion, but are also more likely to venture out into the neighborhood and interact with old friends and neighbors during walks and activities with the dog. As with many other dog-related activities, social activity reduces stress and even offers a sense of community and peace of mind that helps older adults feel younger, safer and more connected to the world around them.
Dogs give older owners a renewed sense of purpose. As people age, the sense of purpose tends to lessen. Children grow up and move away, or as with my children, simply require less time and care. Losing a sense of purpose is difficult and depressing for adults. Pets help return a sense of purpose to less active individuals, also leading to increased energy levels and attention to personal care and well-being that attribute to feeling younger.
Sources:Slowing the Clock: Look and Feel Younger