Dogs enrich your life and bring you joy but did you know they can also help you live longer?
Improved Cardiovascular Health
According to a study in Circulation, Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, owning a dog has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk. In addition, the report suggests that your best fur friend can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and help reduce stress. All of this is great news for dog lovers!
The ten-year-long study involved extracting data from studies published from 1950 to May 24, 2019. Ten studies were included and it was determined that dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction for “all cause” mortality as compared to non-dog ownership. Even more amazing, owning a dog reduces your risk of cardiovascular death by a huge 31%.
Some additional of the health benefits of dog ownership include:
Dog owners may be more active than non dog owners. According to a study by the University of Missouri, dog owners walk on average 300 minutes a week. Non dog owners only walk about 168 minutes.
Dog owners that do daily activities with their pets also get more exercise. Hiking, going to the beach, jogging, tossing a ball, playing with, or even cleaning up after your dog all add up to more physical activity.
Everyone knows that increased exercise is not only good for the heart but can also help you lose weight. Walking a dog is a great form of exercise that many people, at many fitness levels can do.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool found that 40% of dog owners take their dogs for a walk. They also discovered that accessibility to dog friendly walking environments and more education about the physical requirements of dogs led owners to get out and exercise with their pets more often.
Owning a dog also increases our feelings of happiness Studies show that when we look at our pets, our brains release oxytocin, the hormone that brings us joy. So just by looking at our pets, we feel happier!
In a study published in the Lancet, researchers reported that individuals who are unhappy have more health problems than happy people. Our dogs add the daily dose of happiness to our lives and help us stay healthier.
Interacting with dogs also helps reduce the production of the cortisol, stress, hormone, while increasing oxytocin, which can lead us to feel calmer and have less anxiety. That is why so many people suffering from anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder benefit from therapy dogs.
Increased stress can cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lower immune function, lower bone density, and increase your risk of heart disease. Owning a dog can help prevent many stress related illnesses.
Did you know that owning a dog helps you sleep better? The Mayo Clinic conducted a study of the sleep patterns of 40 healthy adults and found that people who slept with a dog in their room slept better than those that didn’t.
According to Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist and one of the study’s lead researchers, “Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption. We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets… pet owners can find comfort knowing it won’t negatively impact their sleep.”
Dogs get us out of the house and help us make new friends. They reduce our chance of getting depressed by making it harder to isolate ourselves socially. Of course, depression is a serious problem that may be more complex than what dog ownership can cure, but owning a dog can help get rid of the occasional blues.
Dogs give us unconditional love, acceptance, get us outdoors when we don’t feel like it, help us be more active, and are loving companions when we feel lonely. What better way to improve your health so that you can live longer than owning a dog?