Why Your Dog May Be Your Heart’s Best Buddy
You may have already suspected that, but now Harvard Health Letter agrees, pointing out the cardiovascular benefits.
They say walking your dog gets you out there more and makes you feel better while you are there.
“Research shows people who have a dog are far more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week,” says Elizabeth Frates, M.D., assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
Dogs Help Everything Go Better
The American Heart Association says dog owners are more active physically, more likely to stick to daily walking routines, and have greater heart-healthy “social support” than people without pets. The dog owners tend to have a better cholesterol profile, enjoy lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, and be more likely to survive a heart attack.
Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter says the emotional benefits of having an affectionate creature also figure in the theories for why dog-lovers live longer.
I couldn’t agree more. This issue is close to my heart, having grown up with my two best friends, my loyal spaniel and my faithful police dog. Over the years I saw this loyalty work well for other family members too.
One of my uncle’s weathered an early heart attack, and is now enjoying an amazing retirement with his loyal black Labrador right there every step of the way. The lift in spirits and companionship provided by Ebony are beyond measure.
Harvard Health Sums Up the Benefits
Having a dog encourages physical activity among seniors who traditionally get less exercise.
Walking a dog can lessen any embarrassment some people may feel about their physical appearance and level of fitness.
Pets can help people stick with new habits such as daily walks.
A pet’s companionship can fuel a person’s sense of well-being and connectedness helping them meet and talk with other people. This is especially important for seniors who often become isolated and lonely.
Dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners. Just petting a dog has been shown to reduce an owner’s blood pressure and heart rate.
Studies also show people with dogs have less “cardiovascular reactivity” when mentally stressed which means their heart rate and blood pressure rise less and return to normal more quickly.
Supporting all of this positive research is the one-on-one verification you get if you watch people walking their dogs. That walk is clearly one of the best parts of their day and the healthy boost seems pretty inevitable.