How your pet is paying you back
Approximately 62 percent of households in the United States have at least one pet, according to a Human Society study. Many of these pet owners love their pets simply because of their companionship. But did you know that our adoring animals also provide their humans health benefits?
According to a recent study, published in the journal Applied Developmental Science, young adults who have a strong bond with a pet also experience relationship and social benefits.
The researchers, from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, surveyed 500 young adults aged 18 to 26. They were asked about their outlook and interaction with animals. Additionally, they were asked to describe themselves, in categories such as confident, caring, depressed, etc.
The research team discovered that people who indicated greater care for animals were more likely to serve in a leadership role and be involved in their communities. Furthermore, the more attached a person was to an animal, the more confident or empathetic that person was.
This study is one of many that demonstrate the physical and mental health benefits of owning a pet. The Huffington Post provides a short list of just some of these benefits:
- Good for your heart – research published in the American Journal of Cardiology shows that for those with chronic diseases, having a pet is associated with the heart’s capability to adapt to different circumstances, such as an increased heartbeat. Additionally, a study by the State University of New York in Buffalo found that if you have high blood pressure, a pet seems to stabilize blood pressure levels during moments of stress.
- Protect you from allergies – according to a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, a child’s future allergy risk goes down if they lived with a pet as early in life. Researchers believe that this is because a child’s immune system is strengthened from pet-related bacteria and allergens.
- Increase oxytocin – MSNBC reported that petting a dog can help increase the hormones oxytocin and serotonin, which are the feel good hormones, and decreases the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
“There is a lot of research out there that shows that owning a pet is good for your health,” says Dr. Tony Hampton, primary care physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago. “They can help decrease blood pressure and elevate your mood, but they can also give you an opportunity to get outside and exercise. Having a pet may require a time and financial commitment, but your companion will pay you back in priceless ways.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.