How Your Pet Is Keeping You Healthy

There are many reasons why people own pets. They're adorable, cuddly, and they can even warn you when someone is at your door. But it also happens to be that your pet can improve your physical and emotional health. A growing body of research suggests that owning pets can relieve stress, ease depression, and help prevent certain physical problems like heart disease. Here are some of the ways owning a pet can make you healthier:

Less Anxiety and Stress

By spending even just half a minute with a pet, your body begins to go through physical changes that can have an effect on your mood. Petting your dog, for example, can lower your level of the stress hormone cortisol, easing any anxiety you may have been experiencing. One study showed that when performing a stressful task, it was more comforting for people to have their pets nearby than their friends or family members.

See Also: Your Pets 10 Commandments

Lower Blood Pressure

Pets have been found to be more effective than drugs at controlling spikes in blood pressure. In one study, stockbrokers with high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure than those without pets. Another study of 240 married couples showed that those who owned pets had lower blood pressure and heart rates than others.

Less Risk of Heart Disease

Owning a pet is good for your overall heart health. Pet owners generally have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those who don't own pets. One study found that dog owners who had suffered heart attacks were much more likely to be alive one year later than those without dogs. In another study, cat owners were significantly less likely to die of a heart attack than non-owners.

Less Depression

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. Playing with a dog has been shown to serve as a natural mood-lifter by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine. In hospitals, when volunteers bring dogs to visit patients with serious illnesses, they become less depressed. One reason why animals are so effective at making humans feel happier is that many pets fulfill the basic need to touch.

More Exercise

Dog owners tend to spend more time walking than people who don't own pets, which leads to more exercise. According to one study, dog owners who regularly walked their canines were more physically active and less likely to be obese than those who didn't own or walk a dog. Try to take your pooch for a 30-minute walk per day to ensure that you get the benefits!

See Also: Dr. Weil: Why Walking Is The Best Exercise

Less Lonely

The love and companionship offered by pets can help ease feelings of loneliness - sometimes even better than human company. Research has shown that nursing home residents feel less lonely when visited by dogs than when they are around people.

More Friends

It turns out that having a dog can help you meet more people. Walking your dog leads to more conversations with strangers, since pet owners naturally want to talk to other pet owners. In this way, owning a pet can help you feel more socially connected, and leads you to meet other animal lovers.

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