Having a pet doesn’t just provide a companion, your pet may also help you live longer. According to a new study backed by the American Heart Association, having a pet encourages exercise and keeps stress levels low.
Dogs keep humans healthy
“The data is most robust for people who own a dog,” says Glenn Levine, a cardiologist with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Dogs encourage walking and exercise, but there is evidence that cats provide health benefits as well. According to the USA Today, pet owners were less likely to see blood pressure or heart rates rise in response to stress. Researchers say the study shows some interesting results:
- Dogs may keep owners active (with all those walks). In one study, dog owners were 54% more likely than other adults to get recommended levels of exercise.
- Interacting with a pet can lower stress responses in the body.
- Pet ownership is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and less obesity.
A word of caution
While there are health benefits to owning a pet, researchers say it’s not an excuse to run out and adopt one. Pets aren’t for everyone, Levine says. She encourages people to adopt a pet for the right reasons, and understand the emotional and financial obligations before bringing a pet home.
How many people in the U.S. own a pet? According to American Veterinary Medical Association, 43 million people own a dog and 36 million Americans own a cat. Dog owners will spend about $600 a year on their pet, between food and vet bills. Cat owners spend a little less, shelling out around $300 a year for chow and medical treatment.
Do you own a pet? Do you think your pet keeps you more active? Tell us in the comment box below.
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