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Doctors Agree: Having A Pet Is Good For Your Health

Doctors Agree: Having A Pet Is Good For Your Health

There is no denying that snuggly puppies and sleepy kittens make us say, “Aww” every time we see them.  And nothing wastes more time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest than watching funny cat videos and reading memes. Just thinking about sweet, adorable puppies and kittens makes us happier. Did you know that simply being happier also makes us healthier? Besides the cute factor, there are many excellent reasons to share your life with a furry friend. Yes, there is a bit of cost and some effort to owning a pet, but the improvements to your health and well-being are priceless.

The CDC says pets make our lives better

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, “Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.” This statement offers three outstanding reasons to have a pet. But before you run to your local shelter to pick out a new friend, read on to learn more about the fantastic health benefits of pet ownership.

Pets encourage better health and increase activity levels.

“I consider getting a pet to be one of the easiest and most rewarding ways of living a longer, healthier life,” states Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Studies suggest that the simple act of petting a cat or dog, especially when they are sitting on your lap, can lower your blood pressure and release serotonin. Serotonin is the “feel-good” hormone which may work to improve the bond between pet and owner and, as a bonus, help fight depression.

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Who wouldn’t love to shed a few pounds or increase fitness levels? Pets support our exercise goals by motivating us to be more active and, more importantly, to get outside for some fresh air. It is very easy to increase your activity level while playing with your pet and taking them for a walk. Whether you prefer a brisk run or relaxed saunter, when you combine movement with sunshine, you can see positive mental health benefits as well. The opportunity to walk your neighborhood and interact with community members also makes you more social, less lonely, and boosts your mood.

Pets keep us warm and make great companions.

Do you get cold at night?  Pets love to sleep on the bed with you. In fact, sometimes your cozy bedmate feels more like a mini-furnace propped up against your feet. So, turn down your thermostat and save some money by snuggling with a furry friend. When you have a pet at home, you will never be alone. They may be sleeping by your feet, or more likely on top of the important paperwork you have in front of you, but the sound of their breathing or purring can be very comforting. Spend some quality time in the presence of a loving four-legged friend and you will feel the instant calming effects.

Pets make us feel good. 

When was the last time someone greeted you at the door by jumping up and down enthusiastically?  Dogs always portray an excited, happy attitude when you come home, while cats seem to care only when they want food. Overall, cats have a much quieter, friendly manner while dogs are loving at all times, even following a good lecture about getting into the kitchen garbage. Pets are great listeners, easy to talk to, and rarely talk back.  Which is probably a good thing.

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Cesar Millan, best-selling author and host of the Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911, says, “Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person.  They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.”  Pets are straight-forward and non-judgmental. They truly can be a best friend and trusted confidant, all while contributing impressive health benefits.

Pets give us purpose. 

Do you have an empty nest? Maybe your children have grown up, moved out to live their own lives, and if you’re lucky they come home often to visit. But if you still need someone to take care of, why not give a pet a good home. Fluffy will never outgrow her need for you. She will always require a caring heart to feed, clean, and love her. Visit your local animal shelter and become a hero by offering a forever home to a lucky dog or cat.

Acquiring better health by living with a pet is an amazing undertaking assuming of course that you aren’t allergic. If you tend to get stuffy or sneeze, seek out a breed that doesn’t cause reactions. Pets not only improve our health, but they remind us of the important things in life: food, play, and sleep. Okay, so there are other aspects such as work and travel, but our pets can often accompany us there too.  Enjoy your life and make it healthier and more fun by buddying up with a special feline or canine; they are definitely worth it. Doctor’s orders.

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References

CDC.gov. (2016, 02 03). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from Healthy Pets Healthy People: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/index.html

Davis, K. D. (2002). Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing.

Fields, L. a. (2013, 10 24). WebMD. Retrieved from 6 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health: http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/6-ways-pets-improve-your-health

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O’Connor, A. (2013, 05 09). NYTimes.com. Retrieved from Owining a dog is Linked to Reduced heart Risk: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/heart-association-weighs-in-on-pets/?_r=0

Warner, J. a. (2004, 05 21). WebMD. Retrieved from Petting A Pooch Can Lift Your Mood: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20040521/dogs-mood

Featured photo credit: Cait_Stewart via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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