Newberry Observer

Why having a pet is good for your health

Could owning a pet help you live longer? Possibility — if you get the right type of pet.

If you’ve ever shared your home with a pet you know that an animal can bring love and companionship into your life. But could your furry friend also protect you against heart disease and help you live longer?

Research suggests it might —although the protective effects depend on what type of animal you have and how you interact with your pet. In May 2013 the American Heart Association (AHA) released a scientific statement associating pet ownership with reduced heart disease risk factors and greater longevity. Yet the research leans toward one type of pet in particular.

I think the data, is pretty compelling. There isn’t evidence that other animals, like cats are associated with better outcomes.

How might owning a dog improve your health? A dog keeps you more active. Walking your dog can help you meet the daily exercise requirements recommended. In one study of more than 200 Japanese adults, dog owners were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended physical activity than non owners. Dogs also reduce stress and prevent loneliness. A pet can be a good companion. Especially if you live alone having a friendly face and wagging tail to come home to is an antidote for loneliness.

If you do get a dog, make the most of your time together.

Reference: Harvard Medical School

Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.