Owning a Dog is Linked to Reduced Heart Risk
Most people know, just through their own, that owning a dog can create a strong incentive to get outside and be active. But what most of us don't know is how much of a positive impact pet ownership can have on our overall health. As Dr. Glenn N. Levine (a professor at the Bayor College of Medicine) points out in the New York Times article "Owning a Dog Is Linked to Reduced Heart Risk", "pet owners form close bonds with their pets and being in their presence blunts the owners' reactions to stress and lowers heart rate." For example: in a randomized controlled study, 48 stressed stockbrokers with hypertension were divided into two groups; participants in one group were told to adopt a dog or cat. Six months later, "the researchers found that the stockbrokers who had adopted pets were a lot calmer in the presence of their pets during stressful events versus those who didn’t adopt pets."
When Josh Ross (SF native and software engineer) was asked if and how Luna (his adorable 5 year old Golden Retriever) changed his lifestyle, he answered: "The fact that she brightens up and shines at the mention of going to the park, going for a hike, or coming to work with me is supremely motivating. It makes her day and in turn makes my day. I always feel better, even on the worst days, after taking her out for a bit."
Dr. Geri Lake-Bakaar, a member of Whistle's Veterinary Council, had some closing thoughts to share on this topic:
"The rising rates of obesity and declining activity of Americans are contributing factors that have made Cardiovascular Disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels) one of the number one killers in the United States. However, numerous studies are now showing that people who own pets have decreased risk factors for heart disease, and live longer when they have heart disease. There are some uncontrollable risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease, such as age, gender and family history, however, high stress, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and obesity are significant risk factors that can be positively affected by caring for a pet. Pet ownership has been associated with lower blood pressure and lower stress levels and people who own pets (especially dogs) are more likely to become more active. In addition, people who regularly exercise their dogs typically meet the American Heart Association activity recommendations of 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week."
Jun 5, 2013