They say that dogs are a man’s best friend, but could our canine BFFs actually prolong our lives? According to a newly published study, the answer is yes!
Earlier this month, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association, published a fascinating study. The research compilation includes an analysis of nearly 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom and spanned a total of 60 years.
Ultimately, researchers found that owning a dog helps you live longer.
Lead author Dr. Caroline Kramer stated that “dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all cause mortality.” Additionally, the study found that dog owners had better health outcomes after suffering a heart attack or stroke. These participants were actually 30% less likely to die from cardiovascular issues.
Although researchers only conducted an observational study, there could be many possible reasons why dogs help us live longer, healthier lives.
For starters, co-author Tove Fall shared, “We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that.” After all, dogs provide most owners with lots of laughs and unconditional love.
In addition to providing companionship, dogs encourage their owners to regularly exercise and remain active. In fact, the American Heart Association claims that dog owners get an average of 30 more minutes of daily exercise than non-owners.
Finally, numerous studies suggest that dogs reduce anxiety and depression in many adults. Interacting with pets elevates our bodily levels of serotonin and dopamine. This, in turn, calms and relaxes us. Furthermore, pets help us fulfill our human need for physical touch, which also boosts our mood.
While this study probably makes us all want to head to the shelter and adopt a dog right now, the reality is that not everyone can own a dog during their young adult lives.
So, what can I do if adopting a dog isn’t feasible right now?
You can gain exposure to dogs in numerous ways without bringing one into your home. For example, most local shelters need volunteers to help them daily. You could volunteer your time a few hours each week and pet dogs. Also, many cities now provide dog parks for people to exercise their pups. This could be a great place to visit with personable pooches while getting some exercise for yourself. Finally, you could take up dog walking or pet sitting as a second job. Who doesn’t want to get paid to love on puppies?
For all of our dog owners out there: Do you believe that your precious pup enhances your health and livelihood? Share with us in the comments!