How your pets are improving your health

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

We’re a nation of pet-lovers. From canine companions to feline friends, they’re our beloved pets offering unconditional love. While they’re always there for a cuddle, have you ever stopped to consider the health benefits our animals bring us?
There have been many studies over time to establish what effect pets have on human health. Here, retailer of dog food including grain free dog food, Feedem, rounds up the key benefits:

Reduce stress

We do it every day, but did you know that stroking an animal decreases the body’s production of stress hormone cortisol by triggering a rise in the stress-reducing oxytocin hormone? As such, chilling out with your dog, cat or other furry friend after a stressful day could be just what you need to relax.
In a 2002 study, participants were placed under stress by being asked to complete a timed maths problem. Changes in stress were monitored and overall, those with a dog or cat had lower starting heart rates, the rates were less likely to spike and returned to normal more quickly afterwards. Their performance also improved when their pet was in the room.

Social support

As well as providing constant companionship, owning a pet has been proven to increase social interaction. For example, dog owners are more likely to interact with other dog owners while walking their dog than when they’re walking alone. This can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
In one study, elderly people who had a dog or cat were more capable of performing daily physical activities, such as climbing stars, bending, kneeling and preparing meals. Therefore, a pet could be beneficial for older people, as issues with loneliness and mobility are common in the elderly.

Overall health

If you often feel under the weather, could a dog be the answer to improving your overall health and wellbeing? According to German and Chinese studies, the answer could be yes.
Surveying 9,000 people in 1996 and 2001, one German study found that respondents who had pets had the lowest number of doctor visits. Those who didn’t own a pet in 1996 and 2001 visited the doctor most frequently.
A similar Chinese study found that women who owned dogs visited the doctor less frequently, had fewer days off work and exercised more frequently than women who didn’t own a dog. These studies show how owning a pet can improve our overall health.

Increased exercise

Of course, owning a pet often leads to getting more exercise and burning more calories. This will obviously vary depending on the type of pet you own—for example, goldfish owners are the exception to this point.
However, riding a horse at the trot will burn around 74 calories in just 10 minutes, based on a 5”8 and 150lb rider. Even working in the stables can be beneficial—pushing a 50lb wheelbarrow for 10 minutes will burn roughly 60 calories.
Likewise, an 150lb dog walker burns roughly 205 calories an hour when walking their dog at an average pace. This rate increases as your pace does — whether that’s set by you or the dog! Owning a pet could be a great way to introduce more exercise into your life, helping you to get fit and lose weight.

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