Man’s Best Friend: Just What the Doctor Ordered
The health benefits of owning a dog just keep adding up.
Charles M. Schulz said that “happiness is a warm puppy.” But did he know that better health could also be attributed to man’s best friend?
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have found that not only are dogs good for the soul, but they’re good for you heart, immune system and overall health as well. You might say that dogs and better health go hand in hand — children living under the same roof as dogs are less likely to get the common cold and are even protected against childhood asthma.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that children with early exposure to dogs are less likely to develop allergies in addition to asthma. It’s thought that such exposure actually “trains” the immune system, enabling children to better ward off these illnesses and disease.
Keep reading. You might be surprised at all the ways in which dogs can actually improve your health and quality of life.
It’s true that dogs have been linked to better heart health, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. A report published in the American Journal of Cardiology attributes dog ownership to longevity after heart attack. It was found that male dog owners were less likely to die within a year of a heart attack than those who don’t own dogs.
Feeling anxious? A dog may be just what the doctor ordered, especially in times of crisis. A study published by the Medical College of Virginia found that therapy animals reduce anxiety levels even more than conventional recreational therapies for hospitalized, mental health patients.
Dogs are good company, but seniors stand to benefit the most from their presence. Those living in residential care facilities who are separated from loved ones experience greater quality of life and health with a dog around. The animals promote social interaction and improve seniors’ ability to build relationships.
Studies have shown that a person with disabilities stands to gain a lot from having a furry companion around. Therapy dogs can assist with performing everyday activities, reducing a person’s need for and dependence on others.
By virtue of having a dog, the household is going to be more active, which means greater overall health. Studies by the American Journal of Public Health and American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveal that children in households with dogs spend more time engaging in moderate to active behavior and adults walk twice as much.
Given all the health benefits dogs provide, it only stands to reason that dog owners make fewer trips to the doctor. If you have a dog, here are some things you can do to reap the greatest health benefits from your furry friend. If you don’t have a dog, it might be time to jump on that train.
Cuddle With Your Dog
Give your dog a hug. Research has shown that blood pressure drops when we interact with our dogs. And did you know you can actually experience a spike in oxytocin simply by meeting your dog’s gaze?
Talk to Your Neighbors
A 2000 study revealed that an experimenter walking a dog was three times more likely to talk to others when out and about. These casual chats can evolve into friendships and even lifelong friendships.
Play With Your Dog
The need for play cannot be emphasized enough. Playing with your dog can elevate you to a more creative, imaginative place and allow you to temporarily put aside the never-ending list of to-dos. It forces you to be in the moment in ways that TV or movies or music alone cannot.
Walk Your Dog
Get out and walk your dog. Aside from the inherent social benefits, the physical outcomes are hard to beat — a stronger heart, lower cholesterol, better sleep, reduced stress and improved memory.
What’s your best medicine? How does your furry friend help keep you healthy? Let us know by commenting below.