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8 Ways Pets Improve Your Health

A growing body of research shows that having a pet could improve your overall health.
When you come home to a purr or wagging tail at the end of a stressful day, the sudden wave of calm you feel isn't just your imagination. Research suggests that your fluffy friend truly is good for your physical and mental health. Read on to learn the surprising ways your pet can boost your health.

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  • 1

    Pets may lower your cholesterol

    Via: ABC News

    If you have a dog, those daily walks are helping to keep your cholesterol in check, says Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. Plus, a survey by the Australian National Heart Foundation revealed that people who own pets, especially men, tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


  • 2

    Pets help relieve stress

    Via: Women's forum

    Simply being in the same room as your pet can have a calming effect. A powerful neurochemical, oxytocin, is released when we look at our companion animal, which brings feelings of joy. It's also accompanied by a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.


  • 3

    Pets may reduce your blood pressure

    Via: pinterest

    It's a win-win: petting your pooch or kitty brings down blood pressure while pleasing your pet. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo discovered that in people already taking medication for hypertension, their blood pressure response to stress was cut by half if they owned a cat or dog.


  • 4

    Pets boost your fitness

    Via: Girls gone sporty

    A dog is the best companion for a stroll—even better than a friend. Johnson—co-author of Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound—led a study at the University of Missouri that found that dog walkers improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people. A separate study found that dog owners walked 300 minutes a week on average, while people who didn't own dogs walked just 168 minutes a week. And a study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that not only did dog owners walk more than non-owners, they were also 54% more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.


  • 5

    Pets reduce your cardiovascular disease risk

    Via: Tears

    Lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure levels combined with increased fitness may add up to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. That's a theory supported by the American Heart Association.


  • 6

    Pets may prevent allergies in children

    Via: The Brunnet Diaries

    If you had a pet as a kid, you may be in luck. In a study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, children who were exposed to pets before they were six months old were less likely to develop allergic diseases, hay fever, and eczema as they got older.


  • 7

    Pets ease chronic pain

    Via: Expert training

    Having critters around the house can help distract from chronic pain. That's been demonstrated in hospitalized patients who had a visit from an animal and reported less pain simply from one visit. In fact, Loyola University Chicago researchers found that people who underwent joint replacement surgery used less pain medication when they received pet therapy.


  • 8

    Pets relieve depression

    Via: Counseling South Austin

    Pets can provide social support for their owners, who tend to have better overall wellbeing than non-owners, according to a study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. And a large review of studies by the British Psychological Society found that dogs especially promote therapeutic and psychological wellbeing, particularly lowering stress levels and boosting self-esteem, as well as feelings of autonomy and competence.

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