If you’ve ever had a pet, you know just how much joy and laughter they bring to your life. But did you know that your animal friends can also provide some pretty amazing health benefits?
Want to know how owning a pet can make you healthier? Here’s the scoop!
Dogs need to be walked— and so do you!
Walking and playing with your pet gets both of you up and moving. Whether you’re riding your horse, playing catch with your pup, or tossing a ball of yarn around with your cat, these activities will provide you with a natural energy boost and allow you to let off some steam.
These type of fun activities can also help you maintain or lose weight while building healthy digestive systems, healthy bones, and muscles.
Jogging with your furry friend will enhance these benefits and stretching before your walk or run will help with flexibility. Staying active with your pet will also help with regular sleep so you can function better during the day.
Better emotional wellbeing and mental health
Caring for a pet is a long-term commitment and responsibility. Luckily, your pet will reward you with their unconditional love, devoted attention, and emotional support when you are feeling down.
According to a survey by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, 74% of pet owners said that having a pet improved their mental health. Additional research reveals that owning a pet you connect with can decrease depression, stress, and anxiety. This is because caring for your pet releases oxytocin which is the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief.
Owning a pet can also help with your overall happiness. Not only do they reduce loneliness, they often make us laugh and smile. These simple actions cause neurotransmitters to fire, raising our serotonin and dopamine levels, which are the nerve transmitters associated with calmness and happiness.
Can pets make you more social? Apparently so. And social connections are good for you.
An analysis of 148 studies on fostering social connections and long-term health found that those who have solid social networks are 50% more likely to live longer than those with limited social networks.
Studies show that in addition to providing companionship, pets can also help their owners create human-to-human friendships and provide social support, both of which are good for overall long-term health. This doesn’t just go for dog owners, either. Other kinds of pets including rabbits, cats and snakes can also be catalysts for finding social support and making friends.
The health benefits of having a pet are many and varied.
Caring for a pet can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease and can even improve your immune system. For example, a number of studies have found that having a pet in the home can lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33% and help them develop stronger immune systems overall.
According to a study from the CDC, having a pet also has the potential to reduce blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients.
Another study by the American Stroke Association found that owning a cat in particular makes you 30% less likely to die from a heart attack. It is theorized that this is because cats are less energetic animals that want to be petted and the act of petting your cat brings down stress levels, and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure more so than with other more energetic or less hands on pets.
Pets can also be the best medicine when a person is dealing with chronic pain. A study from Loyola University found that people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery may need significantly less pain meds than those who don’t. There is also evidence that owning and caring for a pet can increase longevity, reduce stress, and boost morale among people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain conditions.
If you’re looking for a friendly, furry, and fun way to stay healthy, adopting a pet could be a great long-term investment.
If you already have pets, go home and give them some love. They’ve earned it!
Co-written by Alexis Lopez, Account Manager at Raffa Financial
Helpful and easy going, Alexis brings the calm to what can be a stormy healthcare landscape. She loves getting to know clients and working with them to design plan portfolios that run as smoothly as she does. Alexis is committed to helping people get the coverage they need and eliminating the problems they don't. She love animals and is a certified dog masseuse!
And Stephanie Springer, Account Manager at Raffa Financial
With over 25 years in the industry, Stephanie accumulated volumes worth of employee benefits knowledge, experience, and expertise. She loves using this information to help clients get the most out of their health plans. She's like a human database, but with a human touch. She also knows a lot of random facts about cats.
Blog photo by Александр Ермолаев
Additional pet photos provided by Raffa Financial