Have you been thinking about adopting a pet? Today I’m going to give you the little push you need to pull the trigger.
Because as strange as it sounds, scientists say adopting a pet is literally good for our health. And it’s not just the warm fuzzy feeling that you get from deciding to rescue a furry friend. (Although that’s great too.)
5 ways adopting a pet is good for your health
According to researchers, there are measurable improvements in our health when we bring home a pet. Following are five of the biggest, and most surprising.
1. Help heart health:
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hamster or a hedgehog sharing your life with a pet is good for your heart health. In fact, both the CDC and the National Institute of Health agree. They report pet ownership can significantly slash your risk for major heart complications including heart attack and stroke.
Studies show pet owners are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack. And they’re 40 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than non-pet people are. And if you’ve already suffered a heart attack, bringing a fluffy companion home can help you live longer, according to experts.
According to the CDC, pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower triglycerides than those who come home to an empty house.
2. Get more exercise:
You already know how important regular exercise is to your health. But if you’re like many folks, your motivation can sometimes pull a disappearing act.
An easy fix for that is to bring home a dog. Because even when you don’t feel like it, Fido always will.
According to a study conducted at the Wellness Institute at Northwest Memorial Hospital, owning a dog can be the key to getting regular exercise. The dog owners they studied took significantly more walks than their peers who didn’t have a dog.
And in another study by the National Institutes of Health dog owners were far less likely to be significantly overweight.
3. Ease depression:
Whether you battle chronic depression or just the occasional bout of the blues, a pet to care for can make a huge difference in how you feel. Studies have confirmed that people are simply less depressed with a pet around.
And once again, it really doesn’t matter what kind of pet you decide is right for you. In fact, in one Korean study seniors were given pet crickets to care for. After 12 weeks, the volunteers were less depressed. And they felt more engaged than folks who didn’t get a chance to care for one of the chirpy little guys.
It turns out simply caring for another living creature is enough to improve mood. And if crickets work, imagine what adopting a pet who loves you back can do for your attitude.
4. Lower stress:
People report feeling more calm and relaxed when they spend time with their furbaby. And science confirms their feelings are real.
Researchers from State University of New York at Buffalo found that having a beloved pet around reduced stress even more than a best friend or a spouse. And another study out of Israel confirmed that pets really do help relieve stress.
Volunteers received either a rabbit, a turtle, or a stuffed animal to cuddle during a stressful situation. The people snuggling the rabbits and the turtles felt much less stress. But the group who received stuffed animal weren’t able to relax. Adopting a pet could do the same for you.
5. Ease pain:
Next time you’re feeling a few aches and pains instead of popping a risky pain pill reach for a pet instead. Because according to studies performed by Loyola University, people who receive “animal-assisted therapy” (aka Fluffy or Fido snuggles) need less pain medication than folks who don’t get to spend time with a pet.
And remember senior animals make great pets for senior people. Programs such as Pets for the Elderly, the Senior Dogs Project, the North Shore Animal League’s Seniors for Seniors, and even your local shelter can help match you with the perfect companion.
Consider opening your heart and home to a pet. There are countless cats, dogs, rabbits and more out there waiting for a forever home. The rewards of adopting a pet are many, including unconditional love, an end to loneliness, and better health.