Dogs Increase Human Life Expectancy

In the United States, dogs are treated as one of the family.  Nike on his 5th birthday taken by Carly Pierson

In the United States, dogs are treated as one of the family. This is Nike of the Pierson family, on his 5th birthday taken by Carly Pierson

The American Heart Association released a national, scientific study that found dog ownership reduced the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

This past month the scientific statement entitled “Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk” was released which critically evaluated the relationship between pet ownership and health. The study looked at the health of Americans without pets and the health of Americans with pets.  According to the Humane Society, 78.2 millions dogs are owned in the United States. Dogs were found to be the only pet that had a significant influence on the owners health.

Owners perceived their dogs as a source of motivation for physical activity.  There was a reported sense of responsibility to exercise their dog and a sense of guilt if they didn’t.  Some owners reported feeling physically forced into exercise because their dog was so persistent and eager to play. This exercise causes dog owners to be less obese putting them less at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol.  Simply having the obligation to walk a dog increased the health of the owners.

Dog owners also proved to have less stress, anxiety and depression. This was measured by psychological tests and heart rate. Dogs act as social support and provide companionship which allows for owners to be more comfortable and confident about their lives.  Endless and unconditional love that dogs give causes their owners to be optimistic and have better self- esteem.  Living with a dog gave owners a subconscious feeling of protection, decreasing anxiety, as well.

For more information visit:

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Citation/2014/01000/Dogs__Can_They_Help_Promote_Human_Health_.4.aspx

Journal Source:

Bushman, Barbara A. (2014). Dogs: can they promote human health? ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. 18, 5-8.

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