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At mealtimes, you pile your plate with vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You visit the gym as often as you can. You even get a physical every year. But, sometimes you still wonder what more you can do to boost your health. If you can relate to this scenario, the answer might be as simple as adopting a pet from your local animal shelter. While you may be skeptical if owning a pet can actually improve your health, the correlations below are pretty compelling.
Owning a Pet Diminishes Symptoms of Depression
According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people spanning all ages around the world suffer from depression. In fact, this serious mental health problem is the leading cause of disability globally. Spending quality time with a pet can elevate the levels of the mood enhancing neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Pets can also give you a sense of purpose. A pet’s companionship can help you overcome feelings of loneliness. Research shows AIDS patients who are pet owners are significantly less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
Owning a Pet Calms Alzheimer’s Sufferers
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating and frightening for both an individual and his or her caretakers. Fortunately, studies show Alzheimer’s patients experience less anxious outbursts if an animal is in the home. Caregivers also feel less burdened when their aged loved ones have a pet. This is especially the case with cats. Feline friends typically require less care than canine companions.
Owning a Pet Slashes Stress
Do family, work, and social responsibilities leave you feeling stressed much of the time? If you frequently feel like your stomach is tied in knots, owning a furry friend might help. Simply petting and interacting with a pet can lessen anxiety. Research reveals people performing stressful activities complete them more efficiently in the presence of a dog. Dogs can also eliminate tension between married couples.
Owning a Pet Can Prevent Allergies
Contrary to popular belief, growing up in an environment with furry animals can decrease your risk of developing allergies and asthma. A study conducted by James E. Gern and published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows infants are less probably to have pet allergies or eczema if they live in a home with a pet. They also have increased levels of certain immune system chemicals.
Owning a Pet Can Keep You Fit
Do you get the recommended thirty minutes of exercise most days of the week? Owning a pet, particularly a dog, encourages you to be more active. You’ll increase your heart rate and burn calories each day when you walk Fido down the street.
Owning a Pet Boosts Heart Health
In addition to filling your heart with love, owning a pet may actually make it stronger. The National Institute of Health, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, have both performed heart related studies on pet owners. Their research reveals pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Decreasing these pertinent numbers can minimize your risk of experiencing a heart attack in the future. Several studies also suggest heart attack patients who own pets live longer than those who don’t.
If you want to start enjoying life to the fullest, improving your mental and physical health is crucial. Who knew something as simple as owning an animal could help in so many ways?