How Pets Can Help You Stay Healthy

Interactions with animals can benefit owners by providing a sense of connection and security.
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Fido, Fluffy and friends with wings, feathers and scales can make a big difference in our lives, providing companionship, structure and distraction from our worries. But pets can also contribute to better physical and mental well-being, providing substantial health benefits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research shows that relationships between people and their companion animals are linked to a number of health benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, loneliness, and anxiety. Decreased feelings and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. -Traumatic stress disorder Pet ownership also increases opportunities for physical activity and outdoor pursuits, improved cognitive abilities in seniors, and better opportunities for social interaction.

“Data tells us that owning a dog or cat can lower blood pressure in people over 50, and a 20-year longitudinal study of 2,400 cat owners found that their heart-related There was less chance of contracting diseases,” says Cassandra. Bowditch, MD, chief medical officer of Psych Plus in Houston. “According to a Behavioral Risk Factor survey, about 60 percent of people who walk a dog get the recommended amount of daily exercise, compared to 45 percent of people who don’t own or walk a dog.”

Veterinarian Paula Cuevas credits activation of the body’s oxytocin system as the driving force behind the physical and psychological benefits of pets on human mental and physical health.

Owning a cat or dog lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
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“From simple pets to nurturing and positive feedback, animal-human interactions are rewarding for many of us. And as pets become part of our families, they become part of our homes and everyday lives for years. Sharing the lives of people makes the relationship closer,” says Cuevas. “A sense of belonging, protection and care are all necessary and beneficial to human beings, who are social creatures.”

Sean Pritchard, president of Pant & Wag and head canine fitness coach, can personally testify to the benefits of owning and spending time with animals.

“Before I started my company, I was overweight, on anti-depressants, had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and was generally pretty miserable. I started my business to keep dogs healthy and happy. started, but in the process, I became healthier and happier myself, lost over 30 pounds and got off all my medications,” he says.

Engaging with pets provides a powerful tool for reducing anxiety, stress and depression.

“The unconditional love that pets offer serves to reduce feelings of loneliness by providing constant companionship. Additionally, the responsibilities associated with pet ownership establish a daily routine and give individuals a sense of purpose.” is encouraging,” says Matthew Schubert, mental health counselor and owner of Gem State Wellness in Boise, Idaho.

Those likely to meet and interact with a pet regularly include older adults seeking purpose and/or companionship.

“Also, anyone suffering from anxiety or depression is a good candidate,” adds Schubert.

In fact, most people can benefit from owning a pet, assuming they don’t suffer from bad allergies to certain breeds and have a home that’s suitable for an animal, Bodoch says.

“In fact, any pet that provides company and encourages you to care and belong can have a positive impact on your health and well-being,” says Cuevas.

Research shows that if you walk your dog (or dogs!), you’re more likely to get the recommended amount of daily exercise.
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That being said, if you’re looking for an exercise companion to join you for a walk or run outside, canines rule the roost.

“Emotional support animals can also help those struggling with mental health issues. These pets must have certain characteristics such as being insensitive to changing environments, calm and well-behaved in public,” ‘ Cuevas continues. “Licensed mental health professionals can provide referrals and prescriptions for emotional support animals.”

Service animals must undergo special training, but even a pet can benefit people with disabilities.
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Conversely, a service dog can help a person with a specific physical disability or medical problem. These animals have to undergo special training to perform their tasks.

“Children on the autistic spectrum, people with visual impairments or physical disabilities, and any regular adult who needs a great excuse to be active can all benefit from having a pet,” adds Cuevas.

Once you have a pet, rely on spending quality time with it, including exercise and play, to reap the benefits of pet ownership, Bowditch advises.

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