Various scientific studies have explored the health benefits of sharing our lives with pets. Most people agree about the joy of having furry companions. However, some might be unaware of the mental and physical benefits that accompany the human-animal bond.
Most of us do not need scientists to convince us about the happiness pets bring. Let’s explore how they can not only keep us healthy but improve our health.
Health benefits linked to blood pressure, heart health and stroke
Managing your weight and getting enough exercise is crucial for people with blood pressure problems. However, studies showed lower heart rates and blood pressure in pet owners. Similarly, studies proved that high blood pressure improved in children when they petted their dogs. There is no doubt that pets help with blood pressure management.
A study over 20 years determined that dog and cat owners were significantly less likely to suffer heart attacks. Furthermore, research also showed that the survival rates after heart failure and heart attacks were higher in pet owners.
When it comes to strokes, doctors say cat owners have lower risks to have strokes. Although the reason is not yet apparent, researchers suspect the calming effect cats have on their owners. By the same token, cat owners are less vulnerable to high stress levels when they focus their attention on their cats instead of themselves.
Pet-related exercise provides further health benefits
Both pooch and owner will benefit from daily walks of about 30 minutes. In the same vein, you can do morning and late afternoon walks for 15 minutes each. Additionally, games of fetch the ball or frisbee can provide extra exercise. Interestingly, some gyms do doga classes — owner and dog yoga.
The more active lifestyle of pet owners is believed to positively affect cholesterol levels. Reportedly, cholesterol and triglycerides levels in people with pets are better than those without pets. Walking your dog strengthens bones and muscles, and exposure to the sun will provide valuable vitamin D.
Allergies, immunity and asthma
Like kids who grow up on a farm, those who grow up in a home with pets typically develop fewer allergies. Being around cats and dogs from a young age lets the body produce higher levels of chemicals that boost the immune system. Researchers say asthma is less common in babies exposed to cats and dogs. However, mothers with cat allergies may want to note that their children will be at a significantly higher risk of asthma.
Mental and emotional health benefits
There is no doubt that petting a dog, stroking a cat or watching a goldfish swim has a calming, stress-easing effect. Essentially, it lowers the stress hormone level, cortisol, and boosts the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin.
People with depression benefit from knowing that their cat or dog loves them unconditionally. A pet will sit and listen to its owner talk for hours, which might ease depression. Furthermore, playing, grooming, feeding and walking a dog can redirect the attention away from the reason for the depression.
Connections and conversations are crucial for depression. Walking the dog or going to a dog park provides a never-ending source of discussion and interaction with other dog owners.
Adults and children alike can benefit from having pet companions. They provide sources of relaxation and calmness and stimulate both the body and the brain.