Studies show that dogs can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and help you stay physically active.
Have you been thinking about getting a pet, but hesitating to make the commitment?
In a 2013 study, “Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk,” the American Heart Association says that owning a dog is good for the heart. “Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease,” Dr. Glenn N. Levine, director of the cardiac care unit at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and the study’s lead author, said. His team of researchers wrote the AHA’s new policy statement.
The American Heart Association advises that adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes a week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week. Owning a dog was shown to reduce cardiovascular risk, most likely because dog owners are more likely to engage in physical activities just by walking them.
One study cited by the AHA of over 5,200 Japanese adults showed that dog owners were more active than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to reach recommended levels of physical activity. Most of the studies focused on dogs and heart disease.
Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.
So if you’ve been debating on whether a pet is right for you, take into consideration the health benefits. While the companionship a dog provides is worthwhile, don’t just let Charlie or Sadie out into the yard to “do their business.”
“Not surprisingly, dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity than dog owners who do not walk their dogs,” according to the study.