More than half of Americans have pets in their household and consider them a part of their family. Having a pet can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health!
Our pets are our friends and have a positive impact on our mental health. Having a companion around all the time can lessen feelings of isolation. A pet can make you more sociable because you feel safer and have more opportunities to socialize when walking or playing with your pet. They can create a sense of purpose, lower anxiety, and boost your mood.
Pets are sometimes brought into hospitals or nursing homes to help with patients’ stress and anxiety because they enhance dopamine and endorphins associated with happiness and well-being.
Pets can improve the health of your heart through stress management and healthy behavior change. Seeing your pet at the end of a long day and spending time with your pet can help you relax, which in turn can help reduce blood pressure. Simply stroking a pet can help lower your blood pressure, leading to a healthier heart.
Pets can help motivate healthy behavior change. Pet owners are more likely to engage in daily physical activity, whether it be going for a walk or just playing with your pet.
Pets encourage their owners to be more active. You can take your dog for a walk, run, or hike. Walking is an accessible exercise for most people, so having a pet can be helpful to get out and get walking – even some cats can be walked! Playing fetch with your dog requires a lot of movement: you are constantly bending, throwing, and running around. You can even do yoga with your pets.
Less common pets, such as horses, alpacas, or other farm animals, provide even greater exercise. Caring for these animals provides a workout as you haul food and water and make sure pastures are secure. Plus, with animals like horses or donkeys, you can get additional exercise from riding them.
There are lots of ways to get active with your pet and you will always have a workout partner!