How does pet ownership affect heart health?
Benefits of owning a pet Statistics
It's no secret that our beloved pets, whether they be dogs, cats, or even fish, bring joy and companionship into our lives. But did you know that these furry friends also have a positive impact on our heart health? Studies have shown that owning a pet can not only increase physical activity and decrease obesity, but also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ultimately decreasing the risk of heart disease.
For example, having a dog can lead to increased walking, with research showing that dog owners are more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity. In addition, people who walk their dogs are less likely to be obese, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
But the benefits of pet ownership go beyond just physical activity. Pets, such as cats and dogs, have a calming effect on us, which can help us handle stress better. This is evident in the fact that petting a dog can lower blood pressure. Furthermore, a study of 240 married couples found that those with a cat or dog had lower heart rate and blood pressure levels than those without pets.
Not only do pets lower the risk factors for heart disease, but they can also decrease the risk of dying from a heart attack. A 20-year study by researchers from the University of Minnesota found that people who had never owned cats were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had owned cats at some point in their lives. Similarly, a 12-year study by Swedish researchers found that dog owners had an 11% lower risk of death from any cause and a 15% lower risk of death from heart disease.
Even if you're not able or interested in owning a dog or cat, other pets such as fish can also have health benefits. Watching fish swimming in a tank has been shown to reduce blood pressure and anxiety.
In addition to the physical and mental benefits of pet ownership, studies have also shown that pets can have social and emotional benefits as well. For example, having a pet can increase social interactions and opportunities for social support. A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that pet owners were more likely to initiate conversations and have more positive interactions with others when their pets were present.
Pets can also provide emotional support and companionship, especially for those who live alone. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people who lived alone and owned pets reported lower levels of loneliness and depression compared to those who lived alone without pets.
Pets can also have positive effects on children's development. A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that children who grew up with pets had higher levels of empathy and pro-social behavior compared to those who did not have pets.
It is important to note that while pets can have many benefits, they also come with responsibilities. Adopting a pet should not be taken lightly, as they require time, money, and effort to care for properly. It is important to consider factors such as living arrangements, lifestyle, and financial situation before making the decision to adopt a pet.
Overall, owning a pet can have many benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. From increasing physical activity and decreasing stress, to providing emotional support and companionship, pets can be a valuable addition to our lives. However, it is important to consider the responsibilities that come with pet ownership before making the decision to adopt.
In conclusion, owning a pet can be more than just a lifestyle choice, but a wise decision for our overall health and especially our hearts. More research is needed to fully understand the extent of the benefits, but the evidence suggests that having a furry friend by our side can have a positive impact on our well-being.