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7 scientific reasons why owning a dog can make you healthier

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Find out why hanging out with four-legged friends does wonders for your health and wellbeing...

When it comes to kicking back and relaxing, one of Jess’s favourite things to do is to walk her chocolate Labrador, Myla.

 

“For me, it’s a chance to get outside and switch off. Even when I was training professionally, I would walk Myla twice a day, before and after training, and I would treasure the routine.”

 

For dog owners it might come as no major surprise that owning a dog can make you healthier and happier. If you haven’t got a dog and need some solid justification to persuade your loved ones into getting one, here’s seven reasons why having a four-legged furry friend is a good thing.

Owning a dog helps to improve your heart health. Studies show that having a dog is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels

1) Keeps you fit and active
Come rain or shine, a dog always needs walking so it’s a sure-fire way of ensuring you get your steps in and your heartrate going. Analysis in this study by BMJ Journals showed two thirds of dog owners walked their dogs at least once a day, making them much more likely to reach exercise benchmarks.

 

It’s also been proven that older people who walk their dogs have better mobility. A study in the journal, Gerontologist, found that older adults who walked dogs experienced lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.

 

2) Improves your social life
Owning a dog can help create new friendships. A poll conducted by The Indepenent of 2,000 dog owners found that nearly half have made new friends while walking their dog.

 

3) Reduces stress/improve your mood
Being outside and walking your dog is already free therapy, but doing so also helps increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals that play a big role in calmness and wellbeing. Dogs help to ease tension both in an office and home environment.

 

4) Helps weight loss
All those daily dog walks must count for something, right? Indeed they do, as research has repeatedly found that dog walks can help you lose weight, since they force you into moderate physical activity for 10, 20 or 30+ minutes at a time. What’s great is you’re exercising without really realising it!

 

5) Good for your mental health/mindfulness
Nothing beats that friendly dog welcome after a long day, does it? One study by the American Psychological Association shows that dog owners have greater self-esteem, tend to be less lonely, are more conscientious and extroverted, and less fearful.

All those daily dog walks must count for something, right? Indeed they do, as research has repeatedly found that dog walks can help you lose weight

6) Improves heart health
The fact that owning a dog helps keep you fit and active has a knock-on effect as it also improves your heart health. Studies show that having a dog is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks.

 

7) Add meaning and purpose
Dogs are great for adding structure and meaning to your day. The American Psychological Association study also shows greater well-being among owners whose dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence.

 

So there you have it. If you want a furry way to relax and boost your sociability and health, a dog could well be the answer.

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