Your mother always told you that owning a dog was a big responsibility, and she never let you keep the neighborhood puppies you were forever dragging home. But little did she know that that furry friend could also be your ticket to a healthier, happier, and more fitness-oriented life.
This morning, Reuters reminded us of just how many studies have shown that pet people are on to something–specifically, dog owners. They’re more likely to walk by choice, tend to walk faster (and thus, enjoy the benefits of an elevated heart rate), and are more likely to take advantage of parks and open spaces on a regular basis that non-pet-owners.
Assuming you’re not allergic, pets in general are pretty great for your health. It’s a well documented fact that pet ownership can lower your blood pressure, aid in depression treatment, and decrease cholesterol–the Center for Disease Control even recommends adopting a pet for these reasons–but dogs, specifically, offer an additional health advantage: they need to be walked, every day, possibly even several times. Like smokers who keep smoking so they can take a walk around the block, dog owners are always able to drum up a way more healthy excuse to get outside.
The combination of lowered blood pressure and increased cardiovascular activity is basically one-two punch of heart health–one that’s particularly welcome in a country where walking and general outdoorsyness is on the decline, and obesity is on the rise.
Of course, the emotional and social benefits of pet ownership can’t be overlooked. Pet owners frequently report being happier and more fulfilled than their petless counterparts, as well as more adept in non-pet social situations.
Image: The Daily Puppy