Eat your veggies, move daily, avoid smoking and excess alcohol — these are considered to be the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Well, there may need to be another surprising addition to that list. A canine companion can help improve overall wellbeing and it isn’t just about the good company.
The addition of a dog to the household could improve the health of their caregivers. Dog ownership has been associated with improved heart health, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs also help adults better cope with stress, exercise more and decrease their feelings of loneliness and depression. Here’s why a dog could make a great addition to a plan to get healthier this year.
Especially for adults living alone, sharing space with a dog can decrease the overall risk of cardiovascular events. In 2017, the journal Nature published the results of a cohort study pulling information from a register of self-reported health and lifestyle habits. Researchers found that single-adult households with dogs as companions had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and adults living in households of all sizes had an overall decreased risk of death.
Harvard Health Publishing parses out the details a bit, saying that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels. There is also evidence these adults have an improved ability to handle the stressors that come their way.
Dogs require a fair amount of care, but that isn’t a bad thing. Instead, their need for regular activity could encourage their adult companions to stay active, too.
An older study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health examined the health behaviors of 5,200 Japanese adults. The dog owners in the group were 54% more likely to exercise often, hitting the recommended daily activity of at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of the week.
For many adults, pets are friends. For lonely individuals, especially aging adults, a dog could decrease feelings of loneliness.
In 2019, the journal Anthrozoos examined the potential therapeutic role of animal companionship. Researchers found that regular interaction between pets and older adults decreased depressive symptoms and less loneliness.
Pet ownership is a two-way street, which can introduce limitations to the plan for getting a dog for better health if health is already a challenge. This move is best for those who have the time and ability to care for another being and the financial means to keep up with consistent vaccinations and veterinary care. If this sounds like you, consider visiting rescues in your area to give a lonely pet a caring place to live.
Copyright 2019, Wellness.com