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Top Reasons Why Owning a Pet is Good for Your Health

Top Reasons Why Owning a Pet is Good for Your Health

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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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