Having a pet at home can make you happy and healthy
IT'S HARD TO RESIST a cute puppy.
That's probably why searching for one on the Internet will bring up
thousands of hours of viewing pleasure. But did you know that
having a four-legged furry-or feathered, or even scaled-friend at
home could not only make you a YouTube sensation but could also
give your life a healthy boost?
- Pets make us movers and shakers. Whether it's tossing the ball
or trekking the park, pets get us to exercise more regularly, says
Richard Kelley, M.D., a weight-loss physician. "I have found one of
the most important components to a successful weight-loss program
to be consistency of exercise, not just 'time-volume,' but regular,
daily consistency of exercise," Dr. Kelley says. "So many people
who feel a responsibility to get out and walk their dog on a
regular basis seem to have a tendency to progress with weight loss,
whereas someone who exercises an hour and a half twice a week will
- Pets are good with numbers. Many of those important health
stats we're told to monitor for optimal health-blood pressure,
cholesterol and triglyceride levels-can be lowered by hanging out
with Spot or Mrs. Whiskers, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
- Pets are a natural pick-me-up. Studies on the healing power of
pet therapy have shown that pets have a positive impact on the
emotional well-being of patients in hospitals, hospice and other
healthcare settings, according to Rose Guilbe, M.D., medical
director of palliative care at a New York medical center. "Clinical
research demonstrates contact with animals can help reduce feelings
of loneliness and anxiety, and lift patients' moods," she says.
"Dogs are particularly well-suited for this role. They have a
special connection to us, and they sense our spirit."
- Pets are like adorable fountains of youth. Caring for another
creature makes us feel needed, and the desire to be needed is a
necessity of what supports the human spirit, Dr. Kelley says. "It
doesn't matter whether we are caring for a goldfish, several cats
or a feeble old horse, the sense that another creature is relying
on us for their survival is a very powerful thing." -By