It seems these days almost everything makes us sick. From the foods we eat to our homes to our jobs, it often feels like there’s no escaping the many sickness-inducing factors of modern day life that zap our overall wellbeing.
So, it comes as no surprise that despite spending $8,233 on average on health care each year, which PBS.org reports is almost three times more than other developed nations, Americans are still less healthy than people in other wealthy nations.
What can be done? Well, one possible cure for all this illness comes in a surprising package. In fact, it has fur, four legs, a tail, and prefers to treat patients with a thorough face licking.
Yes, that’s right—new research is showing that dogs (and other pets) have amazing health benefits for their owners. Here are just a few of the many health benefits you could see when you bring a four-legged friend into your home.
Say hello to a healthier heart. USNews.com reports that heart disease is the biggest killer for Americans. But having a pet can actually help you have a healthier ticker. As the RSPCA explains, having a pet can lead to “lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides and in men, lower cholesterol.”
Get more exercise. Of course, read any article on living a healthier lifestyle and it will tell you one of the first things you need to do is exercise. It turns out having a dog is a great way to ensure you get off the couch and get moving. This article on the health benefits of dogs points out that having a dog often means taking that dog on a walk, which leads to dog owners getting more exercise than non-dog owners. And, as the article also notes, all that walking pays off in the form of great health benefits—stronger muscles, bones, and lungs.
Come on, get happy! The physical benefits of having a dog are certainly astounding. But equally impressive is how they boost our mental health. This article on why dogs make such great companions lists several ways dogs make us feel better. For example, it notes that pet owners feel safer in their homes than non-pet owners. They also feel less stressed, less lonely, and have more active social lives.
Raise healthier children. The bonuses of having a dog in the house aren’t only for adults. In fact, kids in dog-owning families see pretty remarkable benefits from an early age. For example, Pedigree.com cites a study which found that when babies are consistently around a dog during their first year they have “a lower frequency of allergies and asthma.” The article notes that it also makes them more empathetic and boosts their self-esteem.
It’s a shame that so many factors in our lives seem to take rather than give to our overall health. But I can’t think of a more fun or fulfilling way to gain back those deficits than through spending time with a furry companion!
Vee Cecil is passionate about health and wellness for all, including our four-legged friends. In addition to being a Kentucky-based wellness coach and bootcamp instructor, she recently launched a blog where she shares her favorite tips, health advice and recipes.