Updated: Jun 20, 2019
The Connection between pet ownership and a healthy lifestyle
Welcome back to the real world. With the Fourth of July behind us and summer steamrolling full speed ahead I wanted to share some tips on keeping stress on the run. The inspiration for this post comes from our time over the holiday weekend at Possum Kingdom Lake.
We were blessed to spend some time with family on Possum Kingdom Lake where my favorite pass time is floating just above the water's surface dozing in and out of consciousness. While spending time on the dock listening to the kids and our four legged friends play and swim I thought about how much the dogs have become part of our family. Four families and five dogs made the trip this year, and it just wouldn't have been the same without them along for the journey. I was able to capture each one of the dogs and have shared the images below.
Pet ownership and dogs, in particular, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health by helping you adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Study after study has shown the following:
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study showing that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly over time.
Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
Part of the therapeutic effect comes from the dogs fulfilling the basic human need to touch. When you feel stressed or anxious the simple act of stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe you. Max here loves to roam around looking for a free hand willing to provide a little petting or scratching of his ears.
Owing dogs or other pets can also ease loneliness by providing companionship and unconditional love. Companionship from pets can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for a living animal helps make you feel needed and wanted, and takes the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. If you're like our family, you'll find yourself talking to your pets. They are great listeners and help you work through troubles. And nothing helps ease the tension of a bad day like coming home to a wagging tail and wet kisses.
The need to take Fido for a walk is fun and a rewarding way to fit healthy daily activity into your schedule. In fact, dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements on a regular basis. Daily walks deepen the connection between you and your dog and will also help eradicate a lot of behavior problems. For you and the dog. Wriggly here can outlast the youngest of arms willing to through a tennis ball around the yard.
Your dog can also help you meet new people. Walking your dog is a great way to start and maintain new friendships. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on their walks, hikes, or in a dog park. Dog owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
There is more and more talk about living in the moment, and the companionship of a dog helps you achieve this because dogs live in the moment. They don't worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. They help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present. Being mindful leads to comfort, an easing of anxiety, and building of self-confidence for those anxious about going out into the world.
Last and not least dog ownership offers structure and routine in your day. Dogs require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps you and the dog balanced and calm. Whatever you're feeling, depressed, anxious, or stressed one look from your dog with those puppy dog eyes and you'll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet.
Dave Quinn, CEcD is Chief Inspiration Officer for DaveQuinn247.com and President of City Services for Day One Experts, an economic development consulting firm specializing in economic development consulting to companies, communities, and organizations. If you'd like to set up a time to visit with Dave about possible speaking engagements or to find out more about becoming a member of the Day One family click here to set up a 30-minute discovery call.
Dave is a passionate keynote speaker and coach, encouraging others to be a positive influence in the world around them. As an economic development mastermind, wellness advocate and vision caster, he loves inspiring others through talks on Leadership, Wellness, Economic Development, and Personal Responsibility. Connect with him in the social media world: Twitter, Instagram, and others @DaveQuinn247.