A growing number of research studies are showing that pets, in particular dogs, are not only a ‘mans best friend’ but are also improving the quality of their owners life.
Here are 4.5 ways dogs (and other pets) may just keep you healthier.
1. Increase in Exercise!
Not only your best friend, but also a great excuse to get your butt off the couch and get moving! It’s move or risk feeling guilty as you look into those ‘sooky’ eyes. In 2000 the National Institute of Health and Welfare found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more ‘physically active and less likely to be obese’ than those who didn’t. Further an NIH study that followed 2,500 older adults (71-82) for three years regularly walked faster and longer than those who didn’t walk regularly. Of course you may not just be walking, but throwing the Frisbee, or, working on your upper body strength as they take ‘you’ for a walk.
2. Improve Mental Health!
Touch and movement are known to be two ways that stress can be managed. By petting a dog (or cat) your blood pressure drops, helping you feel calmer and less stressed. An interesting study done with Alzheimer patients showed those with a pet in the home suffered less stress and had fewer ‘outbursts.’ Dogs are also great for your social network – its pretty hard not to have a chat with a passer by when the dogs want to say hello. They lessen loneliness, they are great listeners and they give you purpose or the feeling you belong!
3. Reduce Allergies and Build Immunity!
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics (2011) concluded that dog ownership ‘significantly reduced the risk of eczema at age 4 years among dog-sensitised children’. Cats on the other hand were found to increase the risk! Something to think about when choosing your beloved pet.
4. Overall Better Health!
Combining all the research from a physical and mental state you have pet owners with a lower risk of developing heart problems, are less likely to suffer from depression (University of Missouri-Columbia), and great social and emotional support from those that are blind to the lonely. Some case studies also show dogs have detected low blood sugar levels before patients suffering diabetes as well as scientific reports of dogs ‘sniffing out cancerous growths’.
4.5 They Make You Run Faster
Diesel is the BEST running partner. He’s always up for a run, no matter what time of day or weather condition. He is fitter than me and pushes me to run faster. He never complains, gives me kisses even when I’m sweaty, and loves me unconditionally. Now that’s what I call (wo)mans best friend!
While there is still plenty of research to be conducted, anecdotally the view is overwhelming positive on just how much your furry friend can contribute to your health and well-being. Visit RSPCA or your local shelter and consider adopting one of these adorable creatures.