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As animal lovers, we all love our pets, and we go out of our way to ensure they are as healthy and happy as possible. In recent years, experts have said that pets can provide us with more than endless joy. Research suggests that dogs and cats can offer many health-related benefits to their owners from stress-relief to encouraging higher levels of physical activity. 
 
Animals are beneficial to your physical and mental health in the same ways as humans. Both relationships alleviate stress and improve our self-esteem. Social support interactions trigger a release of oxytocin and a decrease in cortisol, the mechanisms in relaxation. Our brains interpret human and pet relationships in the same way, hence appropriate the same hormones. 

How Dogs Can Help with Physical Health 

Dog owners are more likely than non-dog owners to reach the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. This is usually down to walking their pooch and tending to their needs, giving them extra motivation and reason to exercise. Some doctors have even suggested that patients with cardiovascular issues, should consider getting a dog, as the moderate intensity of walking is as effective as running in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. 
 
Dogs can also help us to socialise as they naturally expose us to situations where we’re more likely to engage with new people. Whether you bump into another dog walker on the street or start a conversation with someone in your dog’s training class, you immediately have something in common. 

How Dogs Can Help with Mental Health 

The calming touch of petting a cat has been shown to lower the heart rate as well as decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The deeper the bond you have with the animal, the stronger the stress reduction. In a 2016 study comparing volunteers at a cat rescue shelter and cat owners, results showed that both parties had decreased indicators to stress, but the owner of the animal experienced even greater calming effects. 
 
Tagged as: health
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