Nov 12, 2017 | Health & Wealth Fall 2017 |
By Joy Jordan
For many people, their pets are a part of their family and fully integrated into their lives. In addition to the happiness that pets can bring, there are many health benefits that accompany little Fido or Fluffy as well.
There are proven health benefits for pet owners, including physical, mental and emotional improvements, from enhancing social skills to decreasing a person’s risk of heart attack.
While pet owners’ hearts may be filled with love for their furry friends, having pets can also help their hearts stay healthy and strong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health have conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels − all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack. The theory is that the benefits come from two areas – first, pets help reduce stress levels, which is key to heart health. In addition, pets often guarantee physical activity on the part of their owners, be it daily walks, jogs, or just playing in the living room. All of which works together to increase overall heart health and wellness.
As counterintuitive as it may sounds, having a pet in the home can actually reduce a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
Pets are often social animals, and having a pet in your life can help your socialization skills across the board, both in terms of meeting and interacting with other pet owners, and providing you with a near constant, non-judgmental companion. Pets can often be a common denominator that helps people connect, everywhere from dog parks to training classes.
Dogs, in particular, can be your own personal trainer, since most need to be exercised multiple times a day. Many studies confirm that this sustained activity can be critical in helping you lose or maintain weight. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health also supports this theory − including one study of more than 2,000 adults, which found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.
As we know, our physical health and mental health are closely intertwined. Pets offer unconditional love that can be lifesaving for many people, and they can often also provide a sense of purpose, which is especially important for those feeling lost. The companionship of pets can also be a true mood-booster. Many hospitals and nursing homes use pet therapy on a regular basis to provide support and enjoyment.
While pet ownership can take a lot of work – and often a fair bit of money, too – it’s clear that for many people, the benefits are worth it all!