Are pets making us healthier? Whilst some people perceive pet ownership as a responsibility, devoted pet owners see their four-legged friends as family members. Such a relationship develops into a mutually beneficial connection. Let’s take a closer look at how our pets bring happiness to our lives and how they improve our fitness level and even our state of mind.
Why pets offer a therapeutic effect on their owners
According to Dr Ambrose, who is a medical practitioner and dog owner, dogs are a major source of emotional support which increases humans’ coping abilities. Owning dogs improves people’s state of mind which leads to improved overall health.
Pets, in general, have a significant impact on the owners’ mood and health. One reason is that of how rewarding it is to fulfil one of the most basic human desires, which is to touch. This refers to the presence of a connection with another living being. Studies revealed that interaction between criminals and pets results in a change of behaviour. This is the outcome where a person first experiences having mutual affection.
Is it healthy to have a dog? Spending time with a dog soothes people especially when they are stressed out. In addition, dogs are a great motivator to engage in physical activities, which contributes to a better state of mind. The benefits of pet ownership encompass physical, emotional, social, and mental aspects of life.
Pets require regular exercise and physical activity, most especially dogs. This is the most obvious health benefit in dog ownership. Daily walks or outdoor activities not only keep your four-legged friend busy, but they also keep you in shape.
Do you know how much calories you burn with your pooch?
- Walking helps you burn 120 calories for every 30 minutes.
Ensure that you are the one holding the lead of your dog to burn calories rather than passing the duty to someone else. Daily walks not only strengthen the bond with your dog, but you can also lose weight.
- Beach-walking helps you burn 150 calories for every 30 minutes.
A beach walk lets you burn more calories. Apart from that, both you and your canine will enjoy the scenic view.
- Go hiking and burn 220 calories for every 30 minutes.
Hit a hiking trail and you are off to burn 220 calories or more. Calories burnt may vary according to the surface. The steeper the incline, the more calories you will burn.
- Play ‘fetch’ and burn 30 calories for every 30 minutes.
This may be a great workout if you are looking for a low-impact exercise. You may upgrade and burn 200 calories per 30 minutes. How? Toss a ball or an object and then race competitively with your dog to the end.
- Play tug-of-war and burn 50 calories for every 20 minutes.
Playing tug-of-war elevates heart rate and puts your muscles from shoulders and upper back into use. This especially true for larger dog breeds.
Pet ownership is a complete package of benefits. It does not only aid your physical health but it also helps in mental and emotional health. In fact, there are pets that are trained to assist and/or entertain the sick and elderly. There are hospitals and nursing homes that offer programmes such as the Pet-facilitated Therapy (PFT) or Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT).
In a study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection in 2011, out of 600 respondents (cat and non-cat owners) with half of them having mental health problems, 87 per cent claimed that being a cat owner positively affects their well-being. Moreover, 76 per cent says they can cope with life better with their feline’s company.
Pet ownership, in general, is one great way of reducing anxiety and stress. Their calming effect contributes to making your blood pressure stable.
- Pets and depression
Pets bring a calming presence to owners. They are a great motivator for most people. Being compassionate and tending to your pets’ needs give you a purpose each day.
- Pets and loneliness
Pets are great companions and they give a sense of security. The companionship makes owners feel less lonely.
- Pets and children with ADHD
This is a great way to encourage children to be responsible in planning schedules on feeding, walking, bathing, and others. Playing with pets is also a good way to release their excess energy. More than that, pets can be a good listener that will not give any criticism to your child for having much energy. For this reason, they are an ideal companion for children with ADHD.
Simply going outdoors with your dog allows you to make connections with other pet owners. Pets can be a topic of conversation when getting to know other people.
Ensure your pooch is well-socialised and has the latest vaccinations before enjoying the company of other pets.