It’s official: pets are good for your health.
The research was conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA), who said:
“Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be responsible for reduction in CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk.”
People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them. In a study of more than 5,200 adults in the US, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54% more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity. The companionship offered by pets is also believed to help those with cardiac problems, with the study summary suggesting there’s a positive benefit on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, reduced obesity and to the body’s reaction to stress.
More health benefits?
The study by the AMA isn’t the first piece of research to suggest the health benefits of owning a pet. Other research has also suggested pet ownership can help:
- Protect against respiratory infection
- Lower stress in the workplace
- Calm blood pressure
- Boost self esteem
Other research has also revealed the calming effects of pets, which are used in animal-assisted therapy programs.
Remember though, if you own a dog, it’s still important to take care of your heart in other ways. In the words of Dr Levine, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas:
“We don’t want people to go out and adopt a dog or a cat and then sit on the couch eating potato chips and smoking a cigarette and assume they are now going to live longer.”