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How owning a pet can help improve your overall health

Lana Bandoim's picture

Pets can offer real health benefits in addition to love and companionship. Have you considered adopting a pet?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 35 percent of the adult population in this country is obese, and it is causing skyrocketing health care costs for those who have been diagnosed. Millions of others suffer from depression and anxiety. However, the answer to these health problems might be as close as the local animal shelter. Owning a dog or cat has a variety of benefits, but among the most surprising is the positive impact their presence may have on your overall health.

1. Pets encourage you to stay active

You know that even thirty minutes of activity a day can help you lose weight and improve your heart health, but you lack the motivation to get started. Owning a dog can help you stay active because of the exercise they require to stay healthy. Some breeds, such as the high-energy Labradors or huskies, can give you a tremendous amount of exercise and motivation.

2. Pets make you walk longer

According to USC Online, there is a mission to educate individuals to make sure future health care leaders recognize the importance of pets. More medical professionals understand that walking with an energetic animal can help you stay healthy. Some studies show that if you walk a pet, you tend to stay outside longer than you typically would if you walked alone. For example, if you previously walked only ten or fifteen minutes a day, your dog’s energy levels might motivate you to raise that to thirty. Over time, this may result in more significant weight loss and better overall health.

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3. Pets can help mental illness

UC Online reports that an understanding of the health care legal and ethics policies is more important than ever, particularly for patients, and this can be especially important if you are being treated for a mental illness. Disorders such as depression and anxiety can be difficult to handle. However, you may be able to reduce the amount of time you spend at the doctor’s office if you have a pet. The CDC points out that pets can improve mental well-being.

There may be several reasons why pets may reduce feelings of sadness, loneliness and generalized anxiety. One of the most significant is that your pet accepts you unconditionally, no matter how you feel or how low your self-esteem might be on a particular day. This lack of judgment may help to bolster your mood and give you a more positive outlook. In addition, the companionship they provide can improve your frame of mind and ward off depression, which may also lead to increased activity and less sitting.

4. Pets can help lower blood pressure

Owning a dog or cat can help lower your blood pressure in several ways. First, walking and playing with them increases your activity level and cardio activity and being less sedentary can lead to improved blood pressure levels. If you suffer from anxiety, petting your dog or cat can lower your blood pressure and help calm you. According to the American Heart Association, studies show that pet ownership can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Pets add greatly to the lives of their humans and ask for little in return. If you are considering the addition of a dog or cat to your family to reap the health benefits, remember that all breeds are different, so it is wise to perform a bit of research before choosing your furry new family member. In addition, you may want to check your local animal shelters for options.