Why Dog Owners are Happier, Healthier and Have Better Hearts!
You already know that playing with your furry friend makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. But a growing body of research suggests that owning a dog is actually good for your health in a medical sense too. The study found a connection between owning a pooch and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. Another study, published in in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that male dog owners were less likely to die within one year of suffering a heart attack than those who did not own a canine companion.
Here are 5 more reasons why your favorite four-legged friend is good for your health:
1. They get you out and about. For those struggling to create an exercise habit, dogs are an excellent way to make exercise a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. It might be easy to flake out on your promise to yourself to get your butt to the gym, but when Scooby is looking at you with those big puppy-dog eyes, there’s no denying him that half hour trip to the park and back. And while he’s having fun chasing squirrels, you’re getting the benefit of some heart-thumping physical activity too.
2. They help you to stress less. It’s hard to worry about that report you’ve got due tomorrow when you’re involved in a high-stakes game of fetch! A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology suggested that your bond with your dog provides a psychological buffer against stress. So when you walk through the door after yet another hard day at the office, a few minutes spent connecting and playing with Rover may be the best way to unwind and switch off (and you know he’ll love it too!).
3. They’re better than Facebook. Dogs help you connect with other people. Specifically, with other dog owners. It’s a ready-made conversation starter: your dog sniffs their dog’s butt, and all of a sudden you’ve met a new friend! The benefits of social contact and support networks to our overall health are well documented, and studies now acknowledge the role of man’s best friend in these human-to-human connections. So let Buddy sniff away – it’s doing you good!
4. Scratching their belly is good for you. Stroking your pet lowers your stress hormones and triggers the relaxation response, says psychologist Deborah Rozman, co-author of Transforming Stress. In the same way that we lose ourselves in calming activities such as artistic pursuits, gardening and hobbies, when you lose yourself in petting Lucky you find yourself in a state of ‘flow’ and feel a whole lot better for it. This loving, social interaction with your pet also helps your brain to think better, allowing you to see new possibilities in situations that once seemed impossible, she says.
5. They make you feel better about yourself! Studies suggest that caring for a pet builds self-empowerment and boosts self-esteem, qualities which can increase resilience and even assist in recovery from serious mental illness. The act of caring for another creature also provides us with a sense of purpose and of being needed – both important aspects for health and longevity. So pampering your pooch is not just good for them, it’s good for you too!
Now, of course, it’s not just dogs. Many of the above benefits apply to other animals as well. However, as a feather in the cap of all the dog lovers out there, the American Heart Association recently issued a public statement declaring that although all pets provide an array of health benefits to their owners, the most benefits were experienced by those who owned dogs. Fido for the win!
McConnell, AR, Brown, CM, Shoda, TM, Stayton, LE, Martin, CE, 2011, ‘Friends with benefi ts: on the positive consequences of pet ownership’, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, vol.101, no.6, pp.1239-1252
Friedmann, E, 1995, ‘Pet Ownership, Social Support and One Year Survival after Acute Myocardial Infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST)’, American Journal of Cardiology, vol. 76, no. 17, pp. 1213 – 1217
Anderson WP, Reid, CM, & Jennings, G, 1992,’Pet ownership and risk factors for cardiovascular disease’, The Medical Journal of Australia,vol. 157, no. 5, pp. 298-301.
Points #2 and #3:
Domestic dogs and human health: An overview Deborah L. Wells, British Journal of Health Psychology, Vol 12 Issue 1, DOI: 10.1348/135910706X103284; [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/135910706X103284/abstract]
Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue and Tension
By Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Ph.D..
Another Breed of “Service” Animals: STARS Study Findings About Pet Ownership and Recovery from Serious Mental Illness. Wisdom, J.P.; Saedi, G. A.; Green, Carla A. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2009 Jul; 79(3): 430-436
Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association (A. Taubert, Sue Ann Thomas et al) Circulation Journal, published online May 9, 2013; http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/05/09/CIR.0b013e31829201e1.full.pdf+html
The first is sourced from here:http://www.michelobultra.com/%28X%281%29F%28a0z9xFf1bmnht7y3oMffYViuTutmOQ5MG3gHS890H0Xa8igbMVoPYMU6iXz4g0Y5tWqKtiYYTyfTYMu2RN9VnKuKSU2lBEMi_ifTfQK5kKqQdVKHh1_HE6XLWJsnCOA4YZ6YJQEcHuvgUZcIQPBAQbNeBB81%29%29/Article-Dog-Power.aspx
The second from here: http://running.competitor.com/2009/08/training/the-best-way-to-run-with-your-dog_4958
Rosemarie Beltz is the creator and director of the Heart Health Concierge, a prestige health coaching service offering heart-smart health advice to clients all around the world. As a cardiac perfusionist for more than 18 years (currently practicing in a hospital in Los Angeles, California) and certified health coach (graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City), she is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the world of western medicine and holistic health. You can connect with Rosemarie at the Heart Health Concierge [www.rosemariebeltz.com], on facebook at [https://www.facebook.com/hearthealthconcierge] follow her on Twitter [https://twitter.com/marprana] and Youtube [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-X8APOL12PU1SI0-A3ICJG].