5 Surprising Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Owning a pet, whether it be a cat, dog or any other creature has been shown to have surprising health benefits on its owners. Many people around the world may think of pets as just good companions to the owners and nothing more but having a pet has been proven to come along with several other benefits, particularly, great positive benefits on the health of the owners.

1. Physical Activity and Exercise

Owning a pet, particularly a dog, encourages regular physical activity since they usually require daily walks. This physical activity helps keep owners fit and also provides you with a fun way to stay active, reducing the risk of illnesses.

2. Stress and Anxiety Reduction

Studies have shown that the unconditional love and companionship that pets offer can reduce stress levels. Interacting with a pet has been shown to trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and stress relief, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation.

3. Mental Health Benefits

Commonly referred to as man’s best friend, pets contribute significantly to improving mental health by providing companionship and relieving loneliness and depression. The responsibility of caring for a pet can give a sense of purpose, routine, and structure, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with mental health challenges.

4. Heart Health

Studies have shown that owning a pet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The presence of a pet can help in lowering blood pressure. The emotional support provided by pets may also contribute to improved heart health.

5. Immune System Boost

Contrary to what you may think, growing up exposed to pet dander and dirt may reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. The microbial diversity introduced by pets in the home can actually lead to a more robust immune response. The theory behind this is the “hygiene hypothesis”. The idea is that early exposure to certain microbes and allergens, like those found in pet environments, helps train the immune system, developing a more robust immune response.

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