In a previous article we talked about the psychological benefits of having pets at home, but it doesn’t end there. Pets can also be good for your health too!
Studies have found several interesting factors that relate to each other when it comes to pets and physiological health:
- Pet owners are much less likely to suffer from depression compared to people without pets.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations and overall than those without pets.
- Playing with a pet elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals which are known to keep us happy and relaxed.
- Pet owners have lower cholesterol levels and indicators of heart disease than those without.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without pets.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets. This could have something to do with the different types of germs they are exposed to on a regular basis keeping their immune systems strong and healthy.
All of these facts aside, pets also encourage a healthier lifestyle in general:
- Increasing exercise: Exercise doesn’t have to involve boring repetition at a gym. Taking a dog for a walk, riding a horse, or simply chasing a kitten around are fun ways to get some exercise into your day and keep you busy.
- Providing companionship: Isolation and loneliness can make disorders such as depression even worse. Caring for a living animal will make you feel needed and wanted, and have a therapeutic effect on anyone.
- Reducing anxiety: The companionship of an animal such as a dog or cat will provide a lot of comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for many people.
- Adding structure and routine to your day: Many pets, especially dogs, require regular feeding and exercise. Regardless of your mood—depressed, anxious, or stressed—you will always have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet.
- Sensory stress relief: Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. This could involve petting a cat, taking a dog for a walk, or riding a horse.