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Around 15,000 years ago, people began domesticating dogs when they realized the innumerable benefits that came with these creatures…not just their cute noses and puppy eyes. From protection to enhanced hearing and sense of smell, humans have benefited from dogs for millenniums.
The relationship goes both ways as our canine friends benefit from companionship and easy supply of food. Dogs have evolved over the years to become attuned to people’s behavior and emotions. They can interpret our tone and understand some of the words we say, along with our body language and gestures.
Scientists have recently begun to explore the health benefits of keeping pets, particularly dogs. Studies have shown that owning a dog can lead to reduced stress levels, improved physical fitness, healthy blood pressure, and decreased effects of chronic conditions. Dogs boost their owners’ overall health and well-being.
Let’s explore some ways that your beloved pet may be helping you stay fit and healthy:
Generally, dog owners experience reduced levels of pain. Their reliance on pain killers simmers down, even if they suffer from chronic illnesses or when recovering from surgery. Elderly people require 20% less medical attention and care if they own dogs. Owning pets even reduces the amount of money a person spends on medical bills.
Owning dogs can increase your lifespan and help you live a longer, healthier life by decreasing the chances of you developing chronic conditions. Dogs are sometimes trained to help manage symptoms of various diseases, but even an untrained dog has innate qualities that help.
Let’s explore how dogs affect various illnesses and conditions:
Dogs can help manage neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease display behavioral issues and resultant stress. Dogs can help manage that stress and anxiety as they are playful, gentle, and docile. They reduce aggressive behavior and outbursts by soothing their owners when they detect emotional disturbance.
Patients with dementia experience loneliness and emotional pain due to forgetfulness. Dogs can help impede this loneliness as they promote social behavior and reduce agitation and anxiety.
Pet owners have a generally low level of triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which are major indicators of cardiac illnesses. There’s a possibility of heart attack after-effects lowering when patients own a dog. In fact, the chances of another heart attack may decrease and cardiac patients tend to live longer when they own pets.
Adopting a dog decreases stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Dogs help maintain blood pressure at an optimum level, keeping it regulated whether it’s higher or lower than the healthy range.
Petting, stroking, cuddling, or playing with a dog stimulates the production of happy hormones. It fires neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, producing a calming, soothing effect.
Dogs also help their owners by forcing them to leave their houses for walks. A little time in the sun and change of scenery can help patients with mood disorders. Dogs may even promote mindfulness and living in the moment, which is something mental health patients can greatly benefit from.
Dogs help people reduce weight as they require regular exercise. Studies have shown that walking a dog helps both the owner and their fur baby reduce and maintain weight.
Another study found that people who walked dogs for up to 20 minutes, five days a week, lost an average of 14.4 pounds in a year without modifying their diet plans.
With rising levels of childhood obesity, owning dogs will allow children to maintain a healthy weight. Dogs give children a reason to leave their house, spend time out of doors, and get some physical exercise. This could potentially help reduce their chances of developing obesity.
Dog owners have 1/3 the risk of countering diabetes than people who don’t own dogs. The risk of Type II Diabetes greatly reduces when physical activity is maintained.
Children who own dogs are less likely to develop allergies, even if they are genetically predisposed to them with a family history. Children who grow up with pets are less likely to have diseases like asthma and eczema. This is because dogs help create antibodies in children by introducing them to dander, etc. In fact, exposure to animals allows children to develop a stronger immunity in general. The chances of developing an allergy decrease by 33%.
If allergies run in your family, owning a pet may a great way to reduce the chances of developing them.
Apart from chronic illnesses, dogs also promote physical activity. They are active creatures and enjoy all kinds of exercise immensely. You can try hiking with your dog for the added fun of exploring nature while you reach your fitness goals.
The Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals. Physical activity increases by 70% when people own a dog. Their habits may also shift from activities that require less mobility to walks and playing with the pets in the backyard.
Puppies increase their owner’s walking speed by 28%, which means that their owners experience an improved quality of exercise. Dog owners are also more likely to adhere to fitness routines and goals.
Even teens are more physically active when they own a dog! Our canine friends are capable of doing what an adult never can and manage to get teens out of their cozy little rooms to enjoy a brisk walk in the sun.
Remember that dogs need to be regularly fed, groomed, walked, and taken to the vet. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, don’t think about adopting one for the sole purpose of improving your health. Dogs are great for your health, but you must also have the time and the financial means to provide them the best life possible.