When you return home after a long stressful day to a purr or a wagging tail, the unexpected wave of relief and calm is not just your imagination. Studies show that your little furry friend can actually do wonders for your mental and physical health. Pets normally provide unconditional love and constant companionship and they neither judge nor complain. This companionship and bond can make a major difference in mental health. Not to mention the additional exercise you get from playtime, walks and the general running around your pet. Listed below are 6 ways pets can positively impact your physical and mental health.
- Helps lower Cholesterol – if you own a dog, those regular walks and playtime can actually help you regulate your cholesterol levels, according to Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to that, a survey conducted by the Australian National Heart Foundation showed that pet owners, particularly men, tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Help regulate blood pressure – researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo discovered that people who are already taking medication for high blood pressure, their blood pressure response to stress was minimized by 50% if they owned a dog or cat. If you own a cat, you will be glad to know that cat owners are less likely to experience a stroke as compared to their non-cat owning counterparts. Researchers associate this with the animal’s low-maintenance ownership.
- Boost your fitness level – a dog is the best companion for a walk, even better than a human friend. As per a study, dog walkers enhanced their fitness levels more than people who walked with other people. A different study showed that dog owners walk 300 minutes on average on a weekly basis, whereas non-pet owners just walked about 168 minutes per week.
- Reduce anxiety and stress – owning a pet can be very calming and triggers soothing chemicals in the body thus reducing anxiety and stress levels. Cats, for instance, are known to be low-maintenance, which means that a mere petting session is more often sufficient to relax owners and act as a diversion.
- Improve emotional Stability – The ability to have something to touch and the pet is extremely important for emotional stability. Stroking and snuggling up against a soft, furry pet can greatly improve your mental health by releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain.
- Ease Chronic Pain – Having pets around can help distract you from chronic pain. Petting your little friend releases feel-good chemicals – and they act as powerful painkillers. The results have been confirmed in hospitalized patients who had a visit from an animal and reported less pain merely from a single visit. Another study by the American Journal of Critical Care study found that people hospitalized for heart failure had better heart activity when visited by a dog.