Do you have a dog in your life? You could be healthier because of it!!
January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, eating well and moving more after our December overindulgence. It’s claimed owning a dog has a wide range of benefits to your health including making you laugh more, lowering cholesterol and even detecting cancer. Whether you’ve stuck to that new diet or fallen off the wagon already, you can rest assured that just by having a dog in your life could be making you healthier and here’s why:
Dogs are good for your mental health
Research has shown that it only takes 15-20 minutes of petting your dog to lower their blood pressure as well as your own and even looking at your pet increases the Oxytocin or ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain. Dogs have also been known to relieve stress, symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness.
Heart healthy with your furry friend
With Valentine ’s Day around the corner it’s good to hear that owning a dog could be good for your heart. A study by Harvard Health Publications suggests dog owners have had better recovery rates when suffering from a heart attack in comparison with non-dog owners. Other benefits are reported to include lower cholesterol, less physical symptoms of stress and are more likely to survive a heart attack. A good excuse to show some love for the four legged friend in your life!
Great for your social life
Experts argue that owning a dog can help you become more social too, and not just by chatting to other owners on your morning walk. In recent studies members of the public felt more confident in approaching other people who have a dog with them and report using their dog as a topic of conversation when socialising. Cooing over cute dog photos is a pastime shared by many!
Immune system buster!
Children who are introduced to dogs at an early age are said to develop stronger immune systems making them less likely to suffer from allergies such as eczema. In a study published in LIVESCIENCE it was found the rate of eczema was lower among children who lived with a family dog. Another study suggested early exposure to pet allergens and pet-related bacteria can strengthen the immune system, accustom the body to allergens, and help your child build up a natural immunity.
Fit for purpose
It’s not rocket science to suggest that having a dog can get you more active (but only if you’re the one doing the exercising!) Walking in all weathers every day is great for your fitness and waistline but it’s not just walking you can do with your dog. With the growing popularity of dog-friendly Parkruns and activities such as ‘Flyball’ there’s no better time to get outdoors with your dog! Owners are enjoying a wide range of activities including; Horse Riding, Swimming, Surfing, Dog Agility and Canicross with their four legged friend.
Not a dog owner?
You can still reap the benefits of owning a dog by walking friends’ dogs or signing up to a website like borrowmydoggie.com where for £10 a year you can start connecting with dog owners in your area. If you have the time and want to give something back then walking rescue dogs at your local dog shelter can be really rewarding for you and them. Bryson’s Animal Rescue in Gateshead offers people the opportunity to walk their rescue dogs and have some quiet time with them afterwards; there are a wide range of rescue centres across the UK with lots of dogs in need of exercise so you could call your nearest centre and volunteer today!’