Positive Effects of Owning a Pet on Your Health

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Saturday, June 02, 2012 - 01:02 AM

anxietyIt has long been known through their overall popularity that even though they can be a lot of extra work, pets provide a great deal of enjoyment for the people that own them.

And now there is plenty of research to back the theories that these furry critters provide some help with your levels of anxiety and overall mental health, too – not to mention a number of other health benefits.  For over 25 years, research has shown that cohabitating with a furry friend can lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, get people out moving in the fresh air, and boost the immune system. They can even help when it comes to your social life, by helping to get you outside and staying active.

Here are some of the ways that a pet can do wonders for your mental health, and overall health, too.

Studies have shown that with a dog living in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies: 19% as opposed to 33%. Not only that but, but children involved in the study were also less likely to have eczema, and also had higher levels of some immune system chemicals, which healthcare practitioners say is a sign of stronger immune system activation.

From a social standpoint, getting out with an animal to enjoy some fresh air can mean a fantastic social impact as well. For example, taking your dog for a walk can be a natural conversation starter.

Walking a dog or just caring for a pet, can provide exercise and companionship for those in their later years.

There are great natural ways to boost your mental health. Studies say it can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim to feel less anxiety and depression. Your body actually goes through physical changes in that length of time that can help make a difference in your overall mental health. Doctors say that reducing stress saves your body unnecessary wear and tear.

It’s certainly not the only method, but having a pet can help you manage your blood pressure as well. In one study of 240 married couples, results showed that dog and cat owners had lower blood pressure and heart rates during rest than people who did not own a pet. In a similar study involving children, it was shown that kids with hypertension lowered their blood pressure while petting the family pet.

So whether it’s getting outside with a pet, or staying inside and sitting on the couch, the benefits on your mental health, and your overall health, are worthy of a mention.


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