Most pet owners would probably agree that having a pet is a joy. There’s a special bond that develops between an animal and its human that can’t be denied.
It’s certainly no surprise that there are therapy animals helping so many, from guide dogs for the visually impaired to emotional support dogs for children with autism, and horses for equine therapy. Of course, these creatures are all specially trained and certified.
There are also the popular pet therapy programs that bring lovable, furry creatures to hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers to interact with the patients and residents and brighten their days. It’s just something about a fluffy tail wagging and a soft nuzzle of your hand from a gentle creature that can just tug at your heartstrings.
But it doesn’t take special training for the rest of us to reap the benefits of a pet. Think about all the things a pet brings to your life:
1. Pets get you moving.
Whether it’s a daily run or walk with your four-legged friend, or tossing a ball to play fetch, these creatures get you moving. And even in small doses, that movement can have a big effect on your health. If you forget, they’re sure to remind you.
2. Pets require you to have a routine.
Animals seem to have their own clocks that are pretty accurate. They know when it’s time to get up, or to have kibble, or to go for a walk. That means even if you don’t remember it’s time for something, you can count on them to remind you. Having a routine often helps you build in healthy habits such as exercise and sleep, and helps you focus on the priorities. It can also help reduce your stress level.
3. Pets are great companions.
Pets come into our homes and our hearts. That can help reduce that feeling of loneliness, especially for those who live alone, or those who may have lost a spouse in later years. Why is that a good thing? Because research has shown, especially among the aging, that loneliness can have a negative impact on your health. A pet can counter that, and make you feel less alone.
4. You will be healthier because of your pet.
So, what are the health benefits of owning a pet? On top of all the other benefits, pets can improve your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that pet owners have decreased stress and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These factors have a direct link to your heart health!
5. Pets are mood enhancers.
People with pets tend to be more social. That alone can help improve your feelings of happiness and contentment. In fact, just the act of petting a creature can have a soothing effect on a person. For someone with depression, they can also help. In fact, results from a survey by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute indicates that 74 percent of pet owners report improved mental health. Many report less stress, increased social interactions, less depression and reduced anxiety. Overall these creatures can help improve our happiness, which impacts overall wellness.
If you already have a pet, you probably already experience all these benefits. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, maybe this will help you decide.
For more tips on healthy living, visit the Being section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.