Fido and Fluffy aren’t just furry children – they may actually help reduce your stress levels and perk you up. And there is evidence that shows us that having a pet can be good for your health.
Spending time with a cat or a dog can help reduce stress more than talking about problems with a spouse or good friend. According to recent research, pets outperformed friends and spouses in a test that tracked stress levels. Compared to support from humans, dogs and cats helped the subjects lower their perceived and actual responses to stress. So the next time you’re feeling upset, try spending time with your pet to perk up your mood.
Pets can also help prevent loneliness. While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are actually studies that have shown that pets brought into nursing homes can reduce the incidences of loneliness in the residents. Just like in the stress relief study, the loneliness study showed that pets were more effective at reducing feelings of social isolation than were other people!
Finally, pets can reduce blood pressure spikes even when a patient is on medication. A study presented at the American Heart Association Annual meeting showed that New York stockbrokers who had hypertension were more likely to have lower blood pressure rates when they had pets. Both the control group and the test group were on ACE inhibiting drugs, but only the group with pets were able to control the spikes in blood pressure from work related stress and anxiety.
The evidence is clear – pets can improve your life on multiple levels! If you don’t have one, consider getting one. The extra expense and time may be worth it.