Pets can make life more enjoyable and fulfilling, but they’re also a lot of work. When you’re a little more “mature” like I am, you may wonder if you have the energy to look after an energetic little animal. If you’re on the fence about whether to go adopt a furry family member, science says the investment of your time and money is well worth it. I have learned that there are so many health benefits you can enjoy when you have a pet in your life. Here are some of my favorites.
Reduced Stress Levels
Stress is just a regular part of life for many people, but too much stress can cause a lot of health problems. Here are just a few of the dangerous health conditions linked to chronic stress:
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Muscle pain and tension
- Depression and anxiety
- Memory and concentration issues
- High blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
Yikes! That’s a pretty ugly list if you ask me. It can be hard to reduce your stress naturally, but science shows that owning a pet lowers stress and improves heart health. If you have any doubt about that, all you need to do is snuggle with a cuddly puppy or play with a mischievous kitten and notice how your stress seems to melt away.
Increased Physical Activity
When you own pets, you’re responsible for making sure they get enough exercise for good health. This means that you’ll need to get out and exercise, too! Walking a dog is a great way to boost your physical health and make sure your cardiovascular system is always being tested and improved.
Even if you have a cat and you don’t take it for walks, you can still get in some exercise by playing with it. Try pulling a string around the house for your cat to chase. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can work up a sweat just trying to keep the string out of your cat’s reach!
Improved Mental Health
Poor mental health is a growing problem these days. Anxiety and depression rates are skyrocketing, and it’s easy to become the next statistic. But having a pet can help reduce your likelihood of developing a mental health disorder. If you already have a mental health disorder, a pet may help you manage it.
Being around pets can lower stress hormones that contribute to anxiety. Research shows that veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder often feel an improved sense of well-being and better mental health when they have a service dog by their side.
Dogs have a sixth sense and know when you’re feeling down. That’s why they often come up and lick your face or curl up next to you when you’re sad or worried about something. If you want to have the longest, happiest life possible, the key may be to add a furry family member to the mix.
Many older adults live alone. A life of solitude can become very lonely. A loving pet provides an important sense of companionship. Pets are extremely loyal and make excellent companions for those who have lost a spouse or who have never married. Even empty nesters who have each other but no longer have children in the home can benefit from the companionship of one or more pets.
Having a pet can also make it easier to make friends with other pet owners in the neighborhood. Try taking your dog to local dog parks to become acquainted with other people in your area.
It’s easy to see why so many people choose to welcome pets into their homes. Even though they require time and money to care for, pets give back so much more to us.