Owning a Pet May Be Good for Your Heart
Ever heard pet owners say their lives changed when they got their pets? Turns out they are not exaggerating and even have science to back them up. Having a healthy heart is important at any age. And researchers found out that human-animal interaction (primarily dogs or cats) leads to increased fitness levels, stress relief and overall happiness and well-being through constant companionship.
Here are five reasons why owning a pet may be good for you:
1. Less stress.
High levels of stress are associated with issues in cardiovascular health and other health behaviors such as overeating and physical inactivity. Studies have shown that pet owners have lower stress levels in the presence of their pets. Interacting with pets boosts the production of “happy hormones” such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.
2. Increased physical activity.
Owning a pet, especially dogs, motivates pet owners to become more physically active. Research shows dog owners walk one hour more in a week than non-pet owners. Being more physically active reduces the incidence of obesity, which is a common risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
3. Pets provide social support and social interaction.
Pet companionship provides important social support that can motivate pet owners to develop positive health behaviors. Owning a pet also eases people out of isolation and shyness, making pet owners less anxious. Thus, making it easier for pet owners to interact and start a good conversation with other people or other pet owners.
4. Improved cardiovascular health.
In addition to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, owning a pet is also associated with a slower progression of high blood pressure in older adults. Research shows that pet ownership relates to improved cardiovascular reactivity that helps with recovery from stroke and heart attack. Researchers suspect that this is because pets improve the mood of their pet owners.
5. Increased productivity.
Wherever your workplace may be, pets can help productivity. Having a pet also helps build a good impression on others as people with pets are viewed as trustworthy and have a good sense of camaraderie.
If you do not have a pet yet, you may consider adopting or fostering one. Owning pets is associated with numerous benefits for the heart and overall health, including improving heart health through supporting an active lifestyle, preventing cardiovascular diseases, and helping with recovery from a cardiovascular event.
Keep your pets close to your heart, and they will help you take care of yours.
American Heart Association
Human Animal Bond Research Institute