We all love our pets, they are part of our family and we are dedicated to caring for them. Sometimes we don’t realize the good they are doing for us.
We all know our pets add joy to our life, but they may also add years to our life.. In fact, everyone in your household can benefit from the presence of a pet, especially when it comes to heart health.
Here are 10 ways that having a pet will benefit your health . . .
Lowering Blood Pressure
Dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure, especially in stressful situations. The effect was seen in as little as 5 months after people with hypertension adopted a dog.
Eager Walking Partner
This primarily applies to dogs, who are always excited to go for a walk. Maybe you can convince your cat to go along too. Studies show that dog wonders walk about 25 minutes longer each day than non dog owners, which can significantly improve fitness.
Stronger Immune System
After petting an animal, study participants were found to have a significant increase in salivary levels of immune antibodies that help the body fight infection. In addition, children exposed to animals in the home or on a farm are found to have stronger immune systems and fewer allergies.
Lowered Stress Hormones
Spending time with a pet can increase oxytocin and other feel-good hormones in the body. This counteracts the stress hormone cortisol that can cause damage to our heart health, sleep, and result in weight gain.
Triglycerides are fat in the blood and high levels increase our likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. The lowered triglycerides levels found after the adoption of a pet comes with much fewer negative side effects than prescription medication that does the same.
Better Pain Control
Studies show that people that spend time with pets after surgery use less pain medication than those who don’t. It’s assumed this is from increased production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. In addition pets promote increased production of oxytocin which is a hormone that can alter a persons pain experience.
Pets reduce the likelihood and severity of depression by boosting mood. This is likely do to the same hormones being released that decrease stress and control pain symptoms.
Research is strong showing that the companionship of an animal can offer emotional comfort, build self-confidence, and ease anxiety. Our pets live in the moment and help us become more mindful and appreciative of joy found in the present.
A pet can drag you off the couch when you don’t feel like moving. And that’s a good thing! Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help us stay calm and happy. The result – pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression and report a better quality of life.
Studies show that pet owners over the age of 65 make 30% fewer visits to the doctor. It may be the exercise, lowered blood pressure, boosted immune system, or just added playfulness that allows us to age well.
In so many ways pets help us stay healthy, and we can help them thrive as well.
One of my favorite studies out of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago found that walking an overweight dog helped both the animal and the owner more easily shed unwanted pounds. We know that maintaining a healthy weight is important to the health of our heart, immune, neurologic, and endocrine systems.
In fact, dogs provided better support than human accountability partners. Pets don’t talk back, complain, judge, or come up with excuses. They love us exactly where we are, but also help us live better along the way.
A pet can do a lot for your happiness, mental and physical health, and overall enjoyment of life! It doesn’t matter if you like dogs, cats, fish, birds, rats, or rabbits. – but we may be partial to the dog variety because of those exercise benefits.
Need to get your body moving better so you can make it a few more blocks on that daily dog walk without aches and pains?
We are here to help you move with ease and freedom. We are here to help you enjoy life – and your pets – to their fullest. Click the link below for a Free Phone Consult with a physical therapist to discuss your needs and goals.