5 health benefits of owning a pet
Katie Markey McLaughlin | 01.10.14
Photo by Kate Penn — York Daily Record/Sunday News
Pets give their owners motivation to get off the couch — one of several health benefits of having a furry friend.
Furry friends are known for providing their owners — children and adults alike — with an extra dose of joy and delight.
But there’s more. A growing body of research shows that owning a pet makes people both happier and healthier. Here are just a few ways playing fetch with Fido can improve your well-being:
1. A stronger ticker. Several studies, including one from the Baker Medical Research Institute, have shown a correlation between pet ownership and lower levels of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. While the research isn’t conclusive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms a connection between heart health and our four-legged-friends.
2. Motivation to get off the couch. No matter what the weather, dogs need to be taken out for walks, making their owners guaranteed a workout rain or shine. It should come as no surprise that a study supported by the National Institutes of Health found that people who regularly walk a dog are less likely to be obese. Pups also make fantastic exercise partners, for walking, running, hiking and more. Believe it or not, doga — defined as the practice of yoga with your pet dog — is growing increasingly popular!
3. Improved mental and emotional health. Anyone with an animal at home will attest to the fact that dogs and cats often feel less like pets and more like members of the family. As such, they can help people combat feelings of loneliness and depression by offering companionship and unconditional love. That’s why they’re often used to provide therapy to those struggling with conditions ranging from terminal illness to addiction. Pets are also great stress relievers; in a 2002 study by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, participants experienced less stress when under pressure if their pets were with them.