A bad day always becomes better when you’re greeted by a dog wagging its tail and offering you unconditional love. Having a four-legged companion can do wonders for you when it comes to your mental, physical and social well being.
They can help you sleep better, lose weight and make new friends. Here’s why owning a pet and taking good care of your pet could help you take care of yourself, too.
Here’s Why Owning A Pet Is Good For Your Health
The calming effect of having a much-loved pet around could help you manage pain and recover quicker after surgery, according to a study.
You’ll have a better night’s sleep
Allow your dog or cat to stay in the bedroom and you’re more likely to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep, say researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. The caveat? This only works if your pet doesn’t get under the covers with you. These latest findings back up a previous Mayo Clinic study, which found that many pet owners enjoy better slumber simply because they derive a sense of comfort and security from having their pets close by at night.
You’ll feel much happier
Walking the dog can do wonders for your mental health, according to psychologists at the University of Liverpool. While owners may insist it’s the pooch who benefits most, the fact that walking is a guaranteed mood-lifter is often their key motivation, say the researchers.
You’ll protect your heart
Dog ownership is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. This is according to a 2013 review of studies by the American Heart Association. The reason? Those daily walkies boost your physical activity levels, of course, which in turn have a protective effect on the heart. But it’s not all about dogs: pets of all kinds may provide social support to their owners. This can help them manage stress and motivate them to stick with new healthy habits.
You’ll make friends
More than half of us say dog-owners are friendlier than average. 46 percent believe dog-walking is one of the easiest ways to make friends. And 29 percent of dog-owners insist they’ve made lifelong friends while out with their pooch. That’s according to a 2015 survey. It’s also very common for people to bond over their shared love of other animals, of course – as anyone who’s ever spent an entire evening swapping cat stories with friends can testify!
You’ll be niftier on your feet
One more benefit of walking the pet? You’ll get better at walking. In a University of Missouri study, a group of older adults were encouraged to walk on an outdoor trail for one hour, five times a week. Those who walked with their dogs improved their walking capabilities, confidence, speed and dexterity by 28 per cent after 12 weeks.
You’ll keep your weight in check
Another benefit of dog-walking is that you’ll burn a few calories in the process. People who walked their dogs for just 20 minutes, five times a week, lost an average 14.4lbs in just under a year in a 2010 study published in a nursing journal.
Other health benefits of owning a pet include:
- easing your pain
- lowering your blood pressure
- reducing your cholesterol
- preventing stroke
What are you waiting for? Get a pet today!
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com
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