Your fluffy friend, you and your health

Pets make you feel good – that’s no secret. When you come home to a purr or wagging tail at the end of a stressful day, the sudden wave of calm you feel isn't just your imagination. Research shows that your fluffy friend truly is good for your physical and mental health. Pets often provide unconditional acceptance and love and they're always there for you. Apart from the comfort aspect, pets improve your health in a number of ways.

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Pets help relieve stress

Simply being in the same room as your pet can have a calming effect. A powerful neurochemical, oxytocin, is released when we look at our companion animal, which brings feelings of joy. It's also accompanied by a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.

Pets may reduce your blood pressure

It's a win-win: petting your pooch or kitty brings down blood pressure, while pleasing your pet. Researchers at the State University of New York discovered that in people already taking medication for hypertension, their blood pressure response to stress was cut by half if they owned a cat or dog.

Pets boost your fitness

It was found that dog walkers improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people. A separate study found that dog owners walked 300 minutes a week on average, while people who didn't own dogs walked just 168 minutes a week. The increased level of physical activity also tends to lower cholesterol and boosts hearth health amongst dog walkers.

Pets relieve depression

Studies done by the British Psychological Society found that especially dogs promote therapeutic and psychological wellbeing, particularly lowering stress levels and boosting self-esteem, as well as feelings of autonomy and competence. The calming presence and the social bond that pets bring can be very powerful. Animals give something to focus on instead of the negative thoughts a depressed person is prone to have.

Pets ease chronic pain

Having pets around the house can help distract the mind from chronic pain. Petting your animal releases endorphins—the same hormones that give a runner's high—which are powerful pain relievers. The simple task of caring for a pet can also be a positive distraction for people in pain.

Pets boost your self-esteem

Pets are completely non-judgmental, don't have an agenda, take you at face value, and they don't care what you look like or how you behave—they love unconditionally, and that boots self-esteem. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pet owners had higher self-esteem, as well as feelings of belonging and meaningful existence, than non-owners.

Pets bring your family closer together

Whether you make your kids take turns walking the dog or it's always your job to feed the cat, research has proven having a pet is good for the whole family. Pets can be a very important bridge between family members. Often grandchildren have a hard time talking to a grandparent, so pets can be a natural bridge, providing a convenient and easy topic of conversation. Additionally, children often have their first death experience through animals, which is a teachable moment. Pets can provide the ultimate learning experience—kids learn how to treat others with kindness and caring, and they teach responsibility.

Source: www.health.com

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