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5 Proven Health Benefits of Having a Pet

No. 3: Stay Heart Healthy

Many pet owners would agree that a pet can fill your heart with love. So maybe it’s only fitting that the presence of a pet can help improve the overall health of that organ, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels — all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates. These benefits are thought to be connected with pets’ tendency to help reduce or at least control their owners’ overall stress levels.

Fun Ways to Stay Fit with Fido:

If you’re a dog owner who needs more of a workout than walking can provide, here are a few ideas:

  • Jogging or running
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Doga (i.e. Yoga for Dogs)
  • Agility training (obstacle course-based dog sport)

No. 2: Get a Move On

Need a little motivation in the exercise department? Dogs can act as the perfect personal trainer, if only because most of them need to be walked several times a day. According to studies like those conducted by the Wellness Institute at Northwest Memorial Hospital, as long as you’re the one holding the leash, you’ll reap the rewards, which can include losing — or at least maintaining — weight. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health also supports this claim — 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.

No. 1: Keep Your Chin Up

Pets are a great way to beat the blues. Not only are they known to they offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness. This is particularly apparent among groups — including the sick and elderly — who may be on the receiving end of Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT) or Pet-facilitated Therapy (PFT). Many hospitals and nursing homes use these types of programs on a regular basis.

Image: mikebaird / Flickr

Sources

Related:
Could Saving a Pet Save Your Life?
Facts About Cats and Women
Dogs vs. Cats: What Our Pets Say About Us

Read more: Allergies, Cats, Dogs, Fitness, General Health, Health, Heart & Vascular Disease, Pets

By Sarah Grace McCandless for HowStuffWorks via Animal Planet

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138 comments

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1:32AM PDT on Sep 17, 2014

Thank you :)

7:01AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Thanks for sharing, these are very true! Pets are absolutely wonderful (and yes, they provide a great conversation topic for a socially awkward person like me!!)

12:52AM PDT on May 7, 2014

So true, thank you

1:50AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

Our family have had pets all my life.
On the few occasions when I've been without one (or two) it hasn't been long before I've realized that the empty space inside me needs to be filled again.

1:42AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

cool very nice

8:31PM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

Thank you

7:37PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Thank you!

12:49PM PST on Dec 10, 2013

Trees are even better and easier than animals... :-)

9:44PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

I would prefer to be stranded on an island with a cat than a human anyday. Animals in general are better company than humans and much easier to put up with

3:13AM PDT on Oct 12, 2013

Thank you :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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