Pets make our lives so much better. They fill our days with laughter from their adorable shenanigans that make for great anecdotes. There’s not one dull moment when you have a pet around. But did you know that having a pet is known to improve your physical and mental health as well? Yes, turns out our furry, little friends do so much more than being cute. Therapy dogs exist for a reason, after all, being one of the many evidences that pets indeed help us lead a happier and healthier life.
Ways in Which Pets Make Your Life Healthier and Better
Here are some scientifically proven ways in which pets make our lives healthier and better:
1. They Keep You Physically Active
Pets need to go around and play outside, and this is especially true for dogs. Dogs require at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, which equates to 30 minutes of exercise for humans as well. When you get this exercise in, your body starts to feel better. Regular exercise keeps you fit, and good physical health translates into better mental health as well. Therefore, no matter how lazy you’re feeling, your pet will ensure that you get up from that chair or sofa and move around, which will honestly make a whole world of difference.
2. They Help in Controlling Stress
Our lives are filled with stress due to various reasons. Amidst all that stress, having even one playful moment with your pet tends to reduce your stress. When you see their goofy grins and wagging tails, it’s difficult to focus on work issues, financial problems, or anything else you might be dealing with at that point. Research shows that if you play with your pets for 30 minutes after experiencing stress, it will reduce your stress levels significantly. Spending time with pets helps your stress a lot more than interacting with friends and family, according to researchers.
3. They Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check
Those who have pets love to cuddle up with them whenever possible. When you cuddle your pet, it lowers your stress levels and helps in releasing a relaxation hormone, which in turn reduces your blood pressure. Those will pets have lower blood pressure and lower heart rates while resting than those without pets. Pets also reduce the blood pressure of kids with hypertension.
4. They Lower Your Cholesterol
People with pets tends to have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than those without pets. Although the exact reason for this is unknown, it could be related to the healthier lifestyle pets help bring about.
5. They Boost Your Mental Health
Even the smallest of moments with your pets has a tremendously positive effect on your mental health. Watching your fish swim in their tank or stroking your cat eases your tense muscles and lowers your pulse rate. Interacting with pets reduces the level of cortisol, which is a stress-related hormone, and increases the level of feel-good chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Pets serve as great companions, which is how they help you feel less lonely as well. Whether it’s people who live alone or even those who need buddies while staying at a nursing home, pets help in getting rid of the loneliness that often sets in among humans. Therefore, they help in improving your mental health by aiding you in dealing with depression and anxiety.
Pets also help in boosting your confidence. As per a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, pet owners have more confidence and self-esteem. This isn’t surprising because since pets in dealing with depression, stress, anxiety, and loneliness, they also eventually make you more self-assured. Dog owners, for instance, at better at handling rejection and keeping the negative feelings at bay due to the reduced stress they experience from having their dogs around.
6. They Improve Your Heart Health
Pets lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, as already stated. Therefore, this also reduces the risk of heart diseases. People with dogs and cats experience several heart benefits. In a study conducted over a period of 20 years, it was revealed that those who didn’t own a cat were 40% more likely of dying from a heart attack than those who did have a cat. Studies also found that dog owners have a better chance at survival a year after experiencing a heart attack than the ones who don’t have a dog. All of this points to the fact that pet owners have a much lesser chance of experiencing any sort of cardiac disease when compared to the pet-less people.
7. They Help You Socialize
Pet owners love talking to other pet owners. A shared love for animals automatically makes you be friendly towards each other. When you take your dog out for a walk in the park, for example, you are bound to meet other pet owners who will either want to pet your dog or also want to engage in conversations with you. Therefore, your pets help you in meeting new people, socializing, and forming new friendships.
8. They Aid in Fighting Allergies
Studies have shown that having pets around or growing up in a family with pets reduces your chances of developing allergies and even asthma. Babies that are surrounded by pets have fewer chances of getting colds and ear infections during their first year than babies who don’t grow up around pets. The same goes for kids who grow up in a farm filled with large animals.
9. They are Great for Kids
Kids with ADHD and autism are known to benefit while having pets around. Children with autism experience sensory issues which makes it difficult for them to have human interactions. Pets have the ability to hold the attention of kids with autism and provide them with sensory integration activities. Kids who play with pets receive help with chores, responsibilities, as well as planning. It helps them fall asleep easily and also improves their self-esteem.