Those who have pets can attest to the many benefits they bring to their lives. Animals are often prone to silly comical behavior that can elicit smiles and laughter from their owners.
If you are not a pet owner and you think of owning a pet as a lot of work you do not need then for the sake of your health you may want to reconsider. Many people believe that having a pet (or pets) to love and care for is beneficial to their health. Now science is beginning to lean in this direction as well.
Is there a relationship between animal companionship and improved health and emotional well-being in human beings? While the jury is still out on how therapeutic it is to share your life and home with a pet more and more people are becoming believers.
In 2008 the National Institutes of Health conducted some research to look closer at the relationship that exists between pets and health. Here we look at some of the surprising benefits that they discovered from their work:
One – Dogs help to prevent obesity:
A study that looked at 2,000 adults found that dog owners who walk their pets on a regular basis get more physical activity than those who do not have dogs and therefore are less likely to become overweight or obese. Those who love their dogs know that they need to be exercised so when the pet gets exercise so does the owner.
A similar study found that walking a dog leads to a greater level of mobility within a home.
Two – Heart attack victims benefit from having pets:
Researchers looked at 420 people who had suffered a heart attack the previous year. Some of the subjects owned dogs while others did not. They found that dog owners were more likely to be doing better and feeler better, regardless of how bad their heart attack was. Non-dog owners were found to be doing worse and some did not survive the year.
Three – Pets help to teach love, understanding and empathy:
It is not just adults who feel that their pets in part contribute to their emotional and psychological well-being. Children can be taught valuable life lessons by having pets in their lives. Animals can help children to develop empathy for others, as well as love. This can also provide a source of comfort when the child is feeling down.
Many children (and adults alike) talk to their pets when they are feeling sad, discouraged or upset.
Four – Pets keep people socially connected to each other:
Walking a dog will not only keep you trimmer but you are likely to come across other people on your walks and strike up conversations. Animals open the door to greater communication which helps to keep their owners more socially connected than those who do not have dogs to walk. This can lead to greater longevity and a lesser degree of physical and mental decline as you age.
None of these benefits have been proven for a certainty but those who own pets do not have to be convinced. Other studies have pointed to the fact that having pets can lower stress, fight depression, reduce health care costs and lower blood pressure.