Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Man’s Best Friend

You might be surprised at how big of a role your favorite animal can play in your health! Here are just a few ways your furry or slippery friend can benefit your overall well being.

  • Pets are natural mood enhancers: Watching an animal can make a person feel less anxious and stressed. Cortisol (a “stress” hormone) lowers and serotonin (a “happiness” hormone) rises when observing a fish swim, a cat bat at a ball, or a dog sleep on the couch.
  • Studies have shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides than non pet owners.
  • Studies also have shown that pet owners have lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease, including heart failure!
  • Since pets can offer a high dosage of unconditional love, will listen for hours, and typically will willingly take any attention or time spent with it, therapists often recommend getting a pet to combat depression.
  • Individuals who own dogs tend to be more physically active; two 15 minute walks a day to take the dog out will cover the daily recommended amount of exercise.
  • Pet owners tend to like to talk about their beloved companion, and often a pet is a natural conversation starter. This increase in human interaction and less isolation facilitates more socialization and is good for our mental and emotional health.
  • Researchers have found that children who grow up around animals tend to develop less allergies and stronger immune systems.
  • For diabetics, there are dogs who are trained to alert their owner when blood glucose levels drop dangerously low, reminding them to snack or alter medications.
  • Children with ADHD benefit in owning and being responsible for a pet and maintaining a schedule.
  • Emulating your dog or cat’s daily stretching routine will help arthritis and injury prevention while exercising.
  • Animals are often used in therapeutic settings; horseback riding has been a very successful tool for stroke victims or individuals with limb limiting disabilities to stretch and give movement to stiff or unmovable bodies.

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