Mayo Clinic Q & A – Owning pets can lead to healthier lifestyle

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on April 14, 2021 with No Comments

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have been working from home as a result of COVID-19. The adjustment has been difficult and created a lot of stress and strain on my mental and physical health. I find that I spend much of my time in front of the computer. I eat more often, and I barely go outside. A friend suggested I adopt a dog to lift my spirits and get me motivated to go outside. Would I see any real benefits from this? Is there any connection between pets and our health?

ANSWER: Pets play a huge role in creating a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown that pet ownership can enhance fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, improve mental and heart health, and boost overall happiness and well-being. Evidence also suggests that connections to pets provide good social support — an important factor in helping you stick with new health habits.

One of the main benefits is that dogs force us to get up and move for routine and regular walks. A research study found that dog owners more likely report regular physical activity patterns, a healthy diet and ideal blood sugar levels compared to those who do not own dogs. This is beneficial to your heart health because increased physical activity helps strengthen your heart muscles, making it more efficient in pumping blood throughout your body and improving overall heart health.

It’s no secret that pets contribute to overall happiness. Owning a dog has even been linked to better mental health and less perception of social isolation — both risk factors for heart attacks. Dog owners have increased interaction with people, and are less likely to experience depression. This helps to diminish social isolation, which can reduce worse health outcomes and premature death.

Even just interacting with a dog has shown to increase levels of “feel-good” brain chemicals, such as oxytocin and dopamine. This creates positive, happy feelings and a great bonding experience for you and your pet. Pets bring a significant benefit to working from home. Over 50% of people surveyed said they would prefer if they could bring their pet to work.

There are four major ways pets can help with your mental health while working from home:

  • Pets can reduce work-related stress. Two out of three employees say work stresses them out, and 40% say their job gets in the way of their health. Studies show that pets in the workplace reduce stress and improve employee satisfaction.
  • Pets help manage anxiety. Up to 30% of the workforce could be working from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021, according to Global Workplace Analytics. So, now more than ever, people are struggling with mental health. Pets provide companionship and support.
  • Pets help you be more active. Pets give us a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get in some physical activity.
  • Pets combat loneliness. The bond with pets helps people feel less alone. Owners can touch, see, hear or talk to their companion animals, which helps to bring joy and happiness.

Aside from your mental health, owning a pet — a canine in particular — can significantly help your heart. This is the finding of a Kardiozive Brno 2030 study, which looked at the association of pet ownership — specifically dog ownership — with cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular health, in part due to the increase in physical activity.

While walking a dog around the neighborhood may not always sound so enticing, don’t forget to look for ways to incorporate your furry friend into other activities. If your neighborhood has a local dog park, it’s a wonderful way for your dog to let off some steam while you make friends with other canine owners.

Consider also that you can hop in the car with your pet and have a picnic elsewhere. Bring healthy snacks for both of you. In warmer months, venture out to a nearby beach or lake. You can run or walk on the shore, chase balls, and swim. There is always something to be said for getting exercise outdoors and having a companion.

Owning a dog is a big decision that takes a lot of responsibility, but there are countless mental and physical benefits. Consider getting a pet to help you be more active and socially connected, while also improving heart health and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Source:  Mayo Clinic

National Hug Your Dog Day

Our dogs deserve all the love and affection we can give them, which is why there’s a special day dedicated just to hugging them. It’s April 10: National Hug Your Dog Day.

Hugging your dog releases a hormone in both pup and person called “oxytocin,” informally referred to as “the cuddle hormone.” Not only does a good tight squeeze strengthen your bond, it shows your pet that you care. Today is a day to celebrate your dog for all they do.

So grab your dog and give them an extra cuddle today!

National Hug Your Dog Day Activities

1. Go for a walk

Take your dog for an extra long walk today or even to a local dog park. After seeing how happy it makes them, you’ll be wondering why you don’t do it more often.

2. Go on a doggie date

Bring your pup to a dog-friendly restaurant. Some have special treats so that you can dine together. If they’re an extra good dog, take them out for some ice cream after; just don’t give them too much.

3. Celebrate dog history

In honor of your pet on this sacred day, hold them tight, give them an extra long belly rub and cuddle them on the floor or couch while you watch your favorite dog movie together. From “Lassie” to “Scooby Doo,” there are so many famous doggies to celebrate.

Why We Love National Hug Your Dog Day

1.Dogs deserve a special thank you

In addition to being unconditional lovers and expert cuddlers, dogs serve humans in many ways by holding important jobs, including jobs that humans are physically incapable of doing, such as sniffing for drugs and bombs.

2. Dogs love to be loved

Historically, dogs are pack animals which is why they hate being alone. Hence the barking, howling, and chewing on your favorite shoes when you’re not home. When you adopt a pet, you are their pack, so cut them some slack for forgetting personal space and give them an extra tight squeeze on National Hug Your Dog Day.

3.Dogs are grateful

Just you coming home is enough to make their day — especially on National Hug Your Dog Day. With many dogs, just the mention of the word “walk” is enough to get their pulse racing.

 

 

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