Did you know that animals, or having a pet, can be beneficial to your health? If you’re a pet owner or just an individual who enjoys being around animals, you’re probably aware of the benefits of sharing their lives. However, many of us remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that come with snuggling up to a furry friend.
Animals, no matter how big or small, make excellent companions and help make healthy lifestyle changes, which can greatly improve your mood and alleviate depression. It’s only recently that researches on the benefits of human-animal interaction have begun to resurface after examining stupendous results of individuals recovering from an illness (or severe injury) at a remarkable rate.
On top of that, its therapeutic effects are astonishingly effective; even hardened criminals in prison showed long-term behavioral improvements after interacting with pets, where they experienced mutual affection for the first time. When you’re stressed, anxious, or just feeling a little lonely, simply stroking, hugging, and interacting with your pet can help alleviate your pent-up tension and boost your mood.
How pets help you make healthy lifestyle changes?
Pets provide numerous health benefits that you can’t count them all on 10 fingers. There are several, but here are five of the most important healthy lifestyle changes:
Pets increase physical fitness
According to Dr. Frates, “dogs provide love, companionship, and a sense of purpose that motivates you to get outside walking every day.” Moreover, taking your dog for a walk or a run can help increase engagement and adherence to regular physical activity, which is good for bonding, minimizing canine behavior problems, and keeping your pet fit and healthy. This is also connected to a variety of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and a healthy weight.
Pets increase happiness and reduce depression
When we’re depressed, we always seem to crave the company of someone who can understand and listen to what we’re going through, and a pet is the perfect companion in those moments. It is a need to feel connected, which helps alleviate loneliness and brings happiness. Pets can help those who are depressed by offering companionship, especially the elderly or the sick, as well as veterans suffering from PTSD.
In fact, studies suggest that having a pet or service dog in one’s life enhances one’s mood and health. As a result, medical experts advise patients to keep a pet as a means of companionship as they return to their daily life.
Pets help reduce stress and anxiety
Animal companionship can provide comfort, alleviate anxiety, and boost self-confidence in individuals who are afraid to venture out into the world. Pets can help you become more conscious and appreciate the delight of the present because they tend to live in the moment—they don’t worry about what occurred yesterday or what might happen tomorrow.
Pets help improve social interaction
Having a pet (or an animal) is a terrific way to connect with others, whether it’s physically interacting with other people outside or engaging in a conversation about your pet. Whether you are going to a vet or going on walks at the park, it’s impossible not to hold a conversation when you have your cute and furry friend around. Pets can help their owners in forming friendships and providing social support, both of which are beneficial to their long-term health.
Pets teach discipline and responsibility
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducted a study on diabetic teens to see if they could better manage their disease if they were in charge of caring for a fish rather than teenagers who did not have a pet to care for. The study was motivated by the fact that teenagers are known for not adhering to medical regimens.
When the teens were tasked with keeping a fish on a feeding schedule, they monitored their own blood glucose levels on a regular basis while caring for the fish. This behavioral change demonstrates that when people are given a pet to care for, they are more likely to feel responsible for it. It is a positive effect because the teen takes note of the amount to feed the fish and instinctively checks his blood glucose, which will later become a daily routine, leading to better care of the fish and of their health.
So whether it’s a cat, dog, or a reptile of some sort, animals can have a positive effect on your life, both physically and mentally.