Adopt a pet and … get healthier? That might just turn out to be one of the most accurate statements you’ve heard in a long time.
Everybody knows pets are good for you, but really what sort of health benefits of owning a pet are there? They make you laugh, and they come to your rescue in times of sadness. They also keep you active by requiring daily walks, and they sit by you when you just need a warm friend to keep you company.
Physical Benefits Too
Now, scientists are discovering that the health benefits of pet ownership go beyond the emotional ones. Turns out your pets might also be good for your body. For example, according to HelpGuide, people over 65 who own a pet are 30 percent less likely to visit a doctor than those without a pet.
The reason? Experts are not sure exactly how pet owners stay healthier, but it could be a combination of less stress, moving more, and simply sharing some love with your furry companion.
Lower Blood Pressure
According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, human-dog interactions have some unexpected health benefits. The main one? Talking to or petting your dog can lower your blood pressure more than talking to another human being!
Touch can provide excellent pressure-lowering benefits, and pet owners who suffer from hypertension can benefit highly from it both physically and mentally. This is especially true during stressful situations, where pet owners were found to have lower blood pressure than people without pets.
Less Heart Disease Risk
Other studies have looked at the impact that owning a pet has on heart health, and discovered that sharing your home with a furry companion could actually keep you alive longer. According to an American Heart Association scientific statement, pet owners have lower incidences of heart disease risk factors. That includes lower levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure – two major components of a healthy heart.
The decreased cardiovascular risk is even more significant in dog owners as they are also less likely to be obese. This could be, in part, connected to the fact that dog owners walk more than the average dog-free person, leading to an improvement in metabolism and a trimmer waist.
And if that’s not enough, consider this: according to the Harvard Health Publications, pet owners are “more likely to survive a heart attack” if they do happen to have one.
While people with allergies often feel the need to avoid pets in their homes, the truth is that owning a pet can actually help prevent allergies – and this is especially true in children.
How so? Well, for example, research published in the Clinical & Experimental Allergy showed that teenagers who grew up with dogs had 50 percent lower risk of developing animal allergies than those who didn’t, clearly there are health benefits of owning a dog. Teens who grew up with cats had a 48 percent lower chance of developing allergies.
Stronger Immune System
In addition, growing up with animals in the household can do wonders for a child’s immune system. So much, in fact, that kids who grow up with a pet are less likely to get sick and have a higher resistance to viruses, including a particular virus that increases the risk of developing asthma. The reason? Exposure to dust, pet hair and other things that come with owning an animal forces the immune system to fight harder – and that’s what makes it stronger in the long run.
So embrace the health benefits of pet ownership, and let Fido or Fluffy help you live a longer, healthier and happier life than your pet-less neighbors.