A Dog Can Promote Healthy Living by Frankie Wallace |Published 02-21-2020
If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, the solution could be as simple as getting a dog. Many studies have found that dog owners live longer than people who don’t own dogs, and chances are that’s no coincidence.
Having a dog in your life can improve your health in many ways, and you might not even be aware of them. Not only will your four-legged best friend bring unconditional love into your life, but he’ll also bring these important health benefits, too.
It can be all too easy to just relax on the couch after a long day of work, but a sedentary lifestyle isn’t great for your health. Seeing as part of caring for your dog means making sure his exercise needs are met, and that can naturally make you more active, too.
Daily walks with your dog will help you to get in the habit of getting more exercise, and games of fetch trips to the pond to go swimming, and strolls to the dog park will all increase your activity level.
As you get into the habit of walking your dog, you’re likely to discover other ways you can exercise with your pup, too.
Going on a hike with your best friend is a great way for you to both explore, spend some quality time together, and get an awesome workout at the same time. If your dog likes to cover long distances during your walks, consider bicycling with your pup alongside instead of running the full distance.
Even a game of frisbee can give both you and your dog a workout, especially if you incorporate a walk to a big field with plenty of space for the game. This is just one of many ways a dog can promote healthy living for his human family.
Increased activity at any level has many health perks. Not only will it help to improve your circulation and support your heart health, but it can also help to fight the obesity epidemic.
Since dog owners have more opportunities to live more active lifestyles, they might be less likely to develop symptoms of heart attacks, stroke, heart disease, or other issues that are closely related to obesity.
If you need to lose weight, exercising with your dog can help you to do it. And if your dog’s overweight himself, you can go on this weight loss journey together.
This is especially important, seeing as, just like obesity is an epidemic in humans, small dog obesity is also an epidemic, since nearly 53% of dogs in America are considered obese.
With your pup alongside, you can set exercise and weight loss goals for yourself. Knowing that your dog’s health depends on regular exercise can help to keep you accountable, and you’ll both enjoy the resulting health benefits.
Your dog can also encourage you to spend more time outdoors. A daily walk, a hike, or another adventure with your pup means you’ll spend more time breathing in fresh air, enjoying nature, and soaking up vitamin D. This can help to boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed.
Because your dog needs an outdoor space to relieve himself, exercise, and play, you’ll likely find yourself spending more time outside in your yard, too.
Consider creating a backyard retreat so that you can spend quality time outside with your best friend while remaining comfortable. Invest in an awning, canopy, or other structure to create some shade from the summer sun in your yard so that both you and your dog can spend time outdoors without overheating or getting too chilled in colder months.
Add outdoor lighting so that you can spend evenings outside, and purchase some comfortable outdoor furniture so that you can relax as your dog explores the yard. Don’t forget to invest in quality fencing that will safely keep your dog within the yard. Then, bring out a dog bed and a water bowl so that you and your pet can enjoy hours together in your backyard retreat.
Dogs can greatly improve your physical health, but they also contribute to healthy mental living, too. When you’re playing with your dog, you’re more likely to be living in the moment, which helps to keep you from worrying about the future.
The physical connection you have when patting your dog also helps to relieve stress and can even boost your immune system, too. Plus, when your dog is being goofy, he can make you laugh, which further helps to reduce stress.
Having a dog in your home also gives you valuable companionship. A dog could help to reduce feelings of loneliness, especially if you’d otherwise live alone if you didn’t have a pet.
Having a dog by your side can also make it easier to meet people — for example, if you’re out walking your dog, other people may greet you, engage with your dog, or strike up a conversation by asking questions about your pup. This can increase your socialization and make meaningful connections with other people, too.
Eating a heart-healthy diet may help improve your heart functions, but did you know that dogs can also affect other factors associated with heart function.
Much of the benefits can also be explained because pets seem to have a calming effect, reducing stress, getting active, and improving mental health, as mentioned above.
According to Harvard Medical school, studies have shown that our blood pressure goes down while petting a dog.
Other studies cited by Harvard suggest that owning a dog may have the effect of lowing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The study showed that dog owners had lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners and the differences could not be explained by diet, smoking or body mass index (BMI).
Dogs may also help you live longer after a heart attack ischemic stroke. As reported in Science Daily, one study using data provided by the Swedish National Patient Register for Swedish residents having experienced a heart attack or stroke.
The researchers found that the risk of death was 33% lower for dog owners living alone, and 15% for those who also lived with someone.
This is good news for older people and seniors who are experiencing some age-related issues with heart health and an excellent reason to own a dog in your senior years as well as all through your life span. So, it’s clear that a dog can promote healthy living and help us live longer and the research supports this.
Your four-legged best friend offers love, companionship, and entertainment. But he can also help you to live a healthier life, both physically and mentally. These health benefits are just another reason to love dogs and to be thankful that you have a dog in your life.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. If her spirit animal could be anything, it would be a beagle--inquisitive, and always searching for food.
Other articles on Small Dog Place by Frankie Wallace