The Positive Health Benefits of Pets
Looking for ways to improve your health, increase your fitness, and lower stress? You may want to spend more time with a pet.
Studies show that owning a pet can provide cardiovascular and psychological benefits. The American Heart Association noted that pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Who knew that man’s best friend could also be a boon for good health? It turns out that pets of all varieties may improve health!
Reduces Blood Pressure & Stress
We know it’s tough to resist that adoring look from your dog or loving purr from your cat, but there’s even more reason to give them extra attention after a long, hard day. As you pet them, it can actually help lower your blood pressure.
Don’t let your non-pet friendly lease or allergies get you down. There’s still a stress reducing effect (which in turn can reduce your heart rate or blood pressure) from watching fish swim in an aquarium, or just looking at animals (cue sweet or funny cat videos).
If you’re a dog owner, you may get the added benefit of increased exercise which aids healthy management of stress, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Plus, there’s more motivation when your four-legged friend is begging for a walk and eager to go!
Even if it’s just a 10-15 minute jaunt around the block, you’ll be more likely to hit 30 minutes of activity per day when taking them on a morning and evening walk.
Decreases Negativity & Anxiety
The human response to owning a pet goes beyond the physical, and is likely to have a positive impact on our emotions. We are social beings and the companionship of pets can help us to feel less lonely and have a greater sense of well-being, according to this study at Miami University and St Louis University.
A growing number of studies show that time with animals can provide a calming, supportive effect. Animal therapy is now being incorporated into programs at children’s hospitals and other clinical settings.
People who own pets also have increased opportunities to meet others or make connections through their pets, which can help ease anxiety in social situations. If you’ve ever commented on a cute puppy as it walks by, struck up a conversation at a dog park, or just felt a connection with someone because they proclaimed they were a dog or cat person, you can understand how animals may forge new friendships through these kinds of ice-breakers.
In general pet ownership comes with its own responsibilities and associated costs, but it seems that as we attend to pet’s needs, they may be in turn helping us to live more present, full, and healthier lives!