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Pets Can Boost Your Health

By Paul Rothbart

People love pets. In the U.S. there are nearly 77 million pet dogs and more than 58 million pet cats. That is a huge number and doesn't take into account birds, fish, turtles, or other less common pets. They make great companions, give us love, and some people even breed them or show them. They do give us extra expenses and work, some pets add quite a lot of each. But for pet owners, they are worth all of it. You may not be fully aware of it, but pets can also be very helpful to your overall health. Let's take a look at some of the ways our animal friends can aid our health.

Greater Physical Activity

This one applies primarily to dogs, but playing with a cat or other pet can help here too. Dogs need to be walked and exercised. It is a part of taking good care of them. They need you to get this exercise which means you get more exercise. A study found that older people, a group that is often inactive, are more likely to take a walk with a dog than with another human. Another study found that people with dogs get regular exercise that is considered either moderate or vigorous by modern standards. I can attest to this. Having been recently gifted a puppy, I am getting more exercise than I have in some time and have actually shed a few pounds.

Lower Stress Levels

While caring for a pet can include some stressful moments, overall having an animal friend lessens anxiety and stress. Studies have discovered that spending time with animals lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress-induced hormone. Along with less stress, a pet can also help lower blood pressure. A study of stockbrokers found that owning a cat or dog helped lower the spikes in blood pressure that occur when an individual is stressed. Research involving hospitalized heart patients found that dogs decreased blood pressure by 10 percent.

Fighting Depression

The unconditional love provided by a pet is a nice contrast to the indifference the outside world often demonstrates. Caring for another living thing can help us get outside of ourselves. Spending time with a cherished pet can elevate mood and bring joy. Pet therapy is recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health as a viable treatment for depression and other mood disorders. A pet can also counteract loneliness. 

People choose to live with pets because of all the positives they bring to life. In addition to their cuteness and love, they can boost our health in numerous ways. There's a reason animals have been human companions since the beginning of civilization. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Morrisville, N.C.

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