6 Wonderful Ways Your Pet Boosts Your Health
There’s nothing quite like the bond between a person and his or her pet. It’s indescribable and something that can only be felt when you take the leap and bring home a furry friend of your own. The health benefits, on the other hand, can be seen from miles away. (Okay, not literally, but they’re not hard to find.)
Scientists have racked up loads of evidence as to how inviting a pet into your life and home can make a world of difference for your health. Below are six major ways owning a pet can boost your overall well-being.
1. They keep you moving.
Exercise is way more fun with a buddy by your side. And when that buddy is your dog, you’re 57 to 77 percent more likely to hit your weekly activity target than your friends who don’t have a four-legged friend. This consistently healthy level of physical fitness brings on a bunch of additional benefits like lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It must feel good never struggling to surpass that daily step goal.
2. By prioritizing their health, you prioritize your own.
Research shows that people with pets have an easier time sticking to healthy commitments of their own as well. Which makes sense, right? If you’re able to turn down a happy hour offer during the week to head home to feed and play with your fur baby, you can also utter the ever-so-difficult “no” when necessary to stick to your gym date with yourself or make it to that doctor appointment you’ve been putting off.
3. They expose us to healthy bacteria.
Our furry friends track all sorts of lovely things into our homes from the outside world, but that might not be such a bad thing. Recent epidemiological research suggests that our pets are actually reestablishing the healthy balance of the indoor microbiome (since we clean so damn much) by bringing a diversity of healthy bacteria back into our living spaces. These exposures can benefit our immune responses from allergies to asthma.
4. You’re able to relax together.
There’s nothing like the sweet purr of a happy cat or the soft snoring of a pup getting a belly rub. And the best part about it is these love fests benefit both you and your pet. Everyone gets a hefty dose of relaxation hormones, and feeling cared for and loved provides you with an instantaneous mood boost. It’s no wonder that pet ownership is associated with a reduced risk of depression, too. How can you feel down and lonely when you get to cuddle up with these cuties whenever you want?
5. They help us with human connections, too.
It’s incredible how many friendships (and even romantic relationships) stem from a run-in at the local dog park. But it’s true that pets can bring us more opportunities for socialization, and ones that feel more natural for the shy folks out there. Pets also bring out the best in their owners, so strangers get to know you when you’re at ease and feeling like your most natural self, which is all the more endearing.
6. They fill you with a sense of meaning.
At the end of the day, pets have part of your heart. They are excited to see you when you wake up in the morning, thrilled to see you come home from work, and love cuddling up to you at the end of the night. They rely on you for their livelihood, and that instills you with a strong sense of meaning and purpose. It’s important to experience this level of responsibility and the feeling of gratitude that comes with it. Not to mention, the bond you share with your pet truly lasts a lifetime.