There are many reason why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have leash, will walk. It can also:
- help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
- make kids more active, secure, and responsible
- improve the lives of older individuals
- make you more social and less isolated
Just petting a dog can reduce the petter’s blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).
The health connection is often a two-way street. People who are overweight and sedentary tend to have dogs that are overweight and sedentary. In fact, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the canine community — affecting more than half of dogs — just as it has among humans. So if you have an unhealthy, overweight dog, that may be a red flag that you’re unhealthy yourself.
Get Healthy, Get a Dog offers healthy lifestyle changes for both you and your dog to further boost the benefits described above. If the two of you already exercise together, it offers ways to expand your activities.
This article was published by Harvard Medical School.