If you’re a pet owner, you likely already know your animal friend brings you joy, but did you know they can actually keep you healthy? It’s true: having a pet can improve your health in several measurable, meaningful ways, from boosting your immune system to lowering your stress levels. Here at Team GHU, we’ve seen firsthand how having a pet can lead to a healthier lifestyle. As a matter of fact, all the photos in this blog are our cute pooches that get us up off the couch, make us smile and make us move more on a daily basis. If you need a way to exercise more everyday, may I suggest a puppy?
We’ve compiled some pictures of Team GHU’s pets to demonstrate just how much caring for an animal can benefit your health. Having a pet improves your health by….
1. Forcing You To Get A Dose Of Fresh Air
Let’s be honest: would you be venturing out in all types of weather if you didn’t have to be? It can be tempting to hibernate in the winter, or simply on days when you don’t feel like doing much, but that’s not really an option when you have a furry friend who depends on you to take them out in the great outdoors. Whether snow, rain, sun, or sleet…Fido needs to go outside! More time outdoors gives you a chance to clear your head and get more sunlight and fresh air.
2. Making Exercise A No-Brainer
While you’re outside, you’ll likely need to keep it moving! Dogs in particular need a lot of exercise (especially puppies!) and can be a great way to keep you active. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people who started their weight loss journey by adopting a dog. Your canine friend depends on you to take them for a walk—there are no excuses and you can’t skip these workouts unless you want accidents in your home! A well-exercised dog—just like a well-exercised human—is happier, calmer, and healthier.
3. Lowering Your Blood Pressure
Snuggling up to your furry friend isn’t just cozy; it can actually lower your blood pressure. A study at the State University of New York found that people who were already on medication for hypertension found their blood pressure response to stress was cut in half if they owned a cat or dog. Petting your animal friend also lowers your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) within a matter of minutes.
4. Improving Your Immune System
Pets can attract dirt and allergens—and that’s actually a good thing! WebMd notes that having a pet when your children are little can boost their immunity for life. A study run by researcher James E. Gern MD and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that infants who grew up with a dog had stronger immune system activation. They were also less likely to suffer from allergies or eczema throughout their life.
Related: Natural Ways To Fight Off A Cold
5. Fostering Social Ties
Studies show that pets create a deeper sense of community within neighborhoods because they act as such great facilitators of social interaction—after all, they’re the ultimate conversation starter. When you’re walking by yourself, you might not be as likely to engage with other people that you pass. Pets, on the other hand, give you and your neighbors an instant ice-breaker for conversation—and having more social ties has been linked to a longer, healthier life.
6. Boosting Your Mood
You may already know that being with your pet makes you happy, but there’s an actual chemical response occurring when you interact with your furry friend. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your body that’s responsible for relaying messages to your brain, including keeping your mood balanced. You want serotonin—it’s a “feel good” neurotransmitter that can help combat depression or feelings of sadness. Studies continue to show that serotonin levels rise dramatically after interaction with animals—helping improve your mood on a daily basis.
7. Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Lowered stress and blood pressure combined with more physical activity can add up to a lower risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that heart attack survivors who own dogs live longer than survivors who don’t.
8. Helping You Find The Funny
There’s a reason cute animal videos are some of the most shared on the internet: they make us smile! With all the sadness and stress of the world, animals provide us with unconditional love and unconditional silliness: two things we are all in need of these days. Laughter is also a proven stress-buster and immune-booster.
9. Taking Your Mind Off Your Own Problems
It can be easy to become too attached to our own problems and schedules. But animals give you an inherent obligation that requires prioritizing the needs of another creature—which is why it’s both a huge responsibility and hugely rewarding. If you come home after a long day at work feeling stressed, all you have to do is look at the face of your furry friend and chances are you’ll feel a little bit better. Plus, how do you have time to be worried about the problems of human life when your animal friend has other pressing demands like playing fetch or belly rubs?