According to the ASPCA, about 44% of all United States households own a dog. For many, they’re more than just a pet; they’re companions and family members. If you have a dog of your own, you probably know just how happy a dog can make you. But, what if I told you that Fido may even be improving your health and setting you up for a lifetime of improved mental health and physical fitness? It seems to be true: if you want to get more fit, you need to get a dog.
Get More Fit with a Dog!
Sure, your fuzzy companion provides you with happiness, unconditional love, and a whole lot of laughs. But can he really improve your health and help you stay healthy? Absolutely! Several studies have suggested a link between pet ownership and good health, especially with dogs, who tend to be more affectionate and active than cats and other pets. One 2013 study even showed a possible link between pet ownership and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. But how?
They Can Improve Mental Health
Let’s first look at how a dog can improve your mental state. Your moods and mental health can have a serious effect on your physical health, energy level, and motivation to stay active, so it actually should be your first target. Luckily, if you already own a dog, you have the first tool you need in your toolkit.
Petting your dog can actually lower stress hormones and increase soothing hormones in your body! You may even notice that, when you’re tense, you unknowingly begin petting your dog. It’s relaxing, not just for him, but for you too. Not only that, but people with dogs tend to be happier overall. Dogs have an amazing way of lifting our moods when we need it most. They know when we need a cuddle, a few laughs, or even just a good companion by our sides. So, the next time you feel down, go spend some time with Rover.
They Can Help You Stay More Active
It can be tough finding the motivation to exercise, right? It’s not very fun to walk or jog a mile or two by yourself. One of the reasons people don’t stay as active as they should is they don’t have anyone to share their activities with. But your pooch? He’s always willing to get outside and join you for a run!
Dogs need to be walked a few times a day just for potty breaks. So, it’s a good excuse for you, too, to get out there and take him on some longer walks for added health benefits for the both of you. One study from Michigan State University researchers found that 60% of dog owners who regularly walked their pups got at least a moderate amount of exercise each day. For those without dogs, only about one-third of people got enough exercise daily. It seems that dog owners definitely have more motivation to stay active with their furry companions by their sides.