It’s no secret – owning a pet makes you a happier human. While pet owners have known this since the first grey wolf became man’s original best friend thousands of years ago, science can now confidently back up that being a pet owner does indeed improve your wellbeing. Having a pet in the home can improve your heart health, reduce your stress levels, and provide mental health benefits as well.
Improved heart health
Studies show that people with pets have lower blood pressure and heart rates and are at a lower risk for heart disease. It’s possible these lower risks can be attributed to the added exercise that pet owners have (when compared to people without pets). Simple things like taking your dog for a walk or playing together in the backyard can add up and help a person say relatively fit. According to NPR, dog owners get an average of 22 minutes of exercise more per day than people without pets. That 22 minutes means burning over 100 extra calories per day (for a person weighing at least 100 lbs), which translates to over 10 lbs of potential weight gain that is avoided because of having a pet!
Pets have a calming, stress-reducing effect on humans. Simply petting your cat or dog can make your body release a stress-busting hormone that lessens levels of cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. Gazing into your sweet pet’s eyes can release oxytocin (AKA the “love hormone”), reinforcing feelings of bonding and trust while alleviating stress. Having a built-in best friend doesn’t hurt for stress relief, either.
Mental health benefits
Owning a pet boosts your health beyond your physical well-being. Pet ownership provides important mental health benefits as well. Emotional support dogs can help alleviate suffering from psychological illnesses and emotional impairments by providing comfort, support, and unconditional love. Owning a pet also can elevate a person’s mood, creating stronger feelings of trust and a diminishing a sense of isolation. The bond between a pet and an owner can help decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, as well.
A lot has happened since the domestication of dogs; indoor plumbing, electricity, and the Kardashians, to name a few. The love and loyalty pets bring to our lives, however, has not. Having a pet can provide a plethora of health benefits, another reason that owning a pet can improve your life and make you happier.