If you are a pet owner, you probably already know about the joys that come with owning a pet, whether it’s a cat or dog or something more exotic like birds or fish.
But did you know that there are also proven health benefits that come from living with a furry or feathered friend? It’s true — owning a pet can actually make you healthier in many important ways, including the ones below.
You’ll Get — and Stay — in Better Shape
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 minutes of exercise is needed to stay in shape and help prevent chronic diseases — but most Americans do not get anywhere near that amount of activity. One of the best things about owning a pet — especially a dog — is that is can help you to get and stay in shape. One study found that dog owners were less likely than non-dog owners to be overweight or obese.
The great thing is that you have a whole array of choices when it comes to exercising with your dog: you can go running, jogging or walking with it before or after work. Hiking with your dog on the weekend is also a good option and it gets you out into the fresh air and sunshine. You can even get creative with classes like Doga (yoga exercises you can do with your dog!).
You’ll Do Your Heart a Huge Favor
Heart disease is still the number one killer in America — but the good news is that there are a lot of healthy lifestyle choices you can make to lower your chances of developing this problem. Apart from eating well and exercising regularly, having a pet in your life can also help your heart health.
According to the National Institute of Health, several clinical trials have been run which show that pet owners have lower blood pressure rates and lower cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart attacks. The weight management and physical activity benefits listed above also can help your heart stay strong.
You’ll Help Your Child’s Allergies
Okay, when you think about pet ownership, helping your child’s allergies isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. As a matter of fact, many American families have to go through the heartache of giving up a pet due to their child being allergic to it. However, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have done studies that show having a pet in the home can actually reduce a child’s chances of developing allergies to begin with.
In this study, which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, scientists stated they believe that these benefits stem from the fact that being around a pet on a daily basis can make a child’s immune system stronger. Unfortunately, this study does not apply to children who already have allergies to begin with.
You’ll Reduce Your Depression Risk
Trying to keep the blues away naturally? Having or getting a pet can be an important part of keeping depression at bay. There are a number of reasons why several studies have uncovered a link between pet ownership and reduced levels of depression. Firstly, pets can fill your life with a sense of love and purpose. They can increase your socialization and help you make new friends (for instance, at a dog-walking park or an obedience school) and just by themselves can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. They also help to fulfill the human need to be touched. That is why Pet Assisted Therapy or Animal Assisted Therapy has become so popular in places like hospital or nursing homes across the country.
So if you have always suspected that your pet is an important part of your life — you are right! The animals in your life not only bring you a lot of happiness and joy, they can help you live a longer and better life.