Published on June 18th, 2014 | by Peter Young
Can Pets Boost Your Health?
Owning a pet is good way for you to boost your health, fact! There is no denying that sharing your life with a member of the animal kingdom enriches your life immeasurably. It is no accident that we have evolved together, entwined our histories so much that the power of our bond is unbreakable, so it’s not surprising that scientists have cottoned on to this. The Pet Health Council explains how a study from the University of Cambridge showed that being around animals reduces stress and anxiety, stops us feeling lonely, lowers cholesterol and the risk of heart attacks can even help us deal with physical pain.
Get out of the house
Walking our dogs can have physical and psychological benefits. It helps us to relax, slows us down and gives us opportunity to reflect on what is going on around us. These days you can even keep fit by running with your dog using special tummy leads that attach around your midriff so you can stay balanced. These leads can be hard to find in the normal high street, but websites like ebay sell all sorts of leads including the midriff lead. If jogging is not your thing but socialising is, then walking a dog is a great way to meet people. Dog walkers are generally very sociable types and many long-term friendships start by a chance meeting while walking the dog.
Animal assisted therapy
There is a swathe of popularity in using animals in therapy. It is medically proven that humans benefit from touch and close contact with animals by lowering the level of a hormone called cortisol and through release of serotonin, which helps us keep calm and relax. Mental Healthy tells us more about how this works. Therapy animals visit patients in hospital and in old people’s homes around the UK. We are used to horses and ponies being used for Riding for the Disabled activities, but they are now being used as a form of psychological therapy. The horse and human work together on the ground to build a relationship – the horse is considered a mirror of your emotions and can see whether you are ‘worth’ working with and, therefore, only when you are calm, steady and relaxed will the animal be happy to be with you. Animal-assisted therapy has been immensely successful with sufferers of metal health issues, victims of domestic violence, children with educational or emotional challenges and even with the rehabilitation of prisoners, but can be beneficial to any one of us.
Never work with children or animals…
Why though? Well, because they are so similar and this is why they have a natural affinity with one another, animals can get children doing all sorts of things we can’t – they’ll have a lazy TV-addicted child running around the garden, the angriest of kids softly stoking and nurturing ,and the most disorganised of children working to a regime of cleaning out and feeding.
It doesn’t have to be fluffy and on four legs
There are so many species of pets out there that share our homes and lives, but it is personal preference as to which one ticks an individual’s emotional needs box. You don’t have to have a cat sitting on your lap in the evening, or a dog resting its head on you to feel the benefits of owning a pet. A bird chirping away, a relaxing aquarium or maybe even a giant spider staring at you can be just as good for your health (although I guess you’d need to be a spider lover to agree with the last one).
Photo courtesy of Seniors Helping Seniors.
This post was generously sponsored and provided by Anna Jones.