Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you’re around your cat or dog? It’s true, spending time with your pet, no matter what their species, can improve your health and have a positive impact on your mood. For some people, a pet can help them to exercise – throwing a frisbee around in the park, for example. For others, a pet can provide them with a way to connect with others; dog walkers often socialise with each other, for example. However, pets can help improve your health in other ways as well.
1. Lower Stress
Petting a cat or a dog can help to significantly lower your stress levels, while being soothing to your pet at the same time. Research has shown that the act of stroking a pet encourages your body to release the relaxation hormone, oxytocin, while lowering your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Petting an animal also helps to lower your blood pressure. Many studies have found that pets are invaluable for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the above reasons.
2. Boost Your Fitness
If you need to improve your fitness, getting a dog can be a good idea. Studies have shown that dog walkers tend to walk around 300 minutes a week on average, compared to 168 minutes for non-dog walkers. The Journal of Physical Activity & Health also found that dog owners were much more likely to meet their recommended daily levels of physical activity compared to non-dog owners. Whether it’s strolling around the park, or taking long walks on the weekend, owning a dog can significantly improve your fitness and the health benefits that go along with it.
3. Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Lower blood pressure, stress, and cholesterol, combined with improved fitness may end up reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association agrees with this and has even completed a number of studies which show the same thing; especially when the furry friend is a dog. If you’ve been told you are at risk for cardiovascular disease, take a look at Pets On The Park and invest in a windbreaker and a strong lead for your canine. That way, you’ll be able to hit the roads in all weather.
4. Relieve Depression
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pet owners tended to have a much better overall well being than non-pet owners. The British Psychological Society has had similar findings. Pets can help to boost levels of confidence, while also encouraging feelings of competence and autonomy. Animals also give a depressed individual something to focus on rather than their negative thoughts. Receiving unconditional love and acceptance can also be beneficial for many people suffering from mental illness.
Although becoming a pet owner is not a decision you should take likely, if you can afford to get one and look after it properly, it could lead to a massive improvement in your health.