Five Ways Pets Can Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Pet parents know that fuzzy companions bring happiness to their lives but many are unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that also accompany the enjoyment of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. The health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, have put together five ways how bringing a pet into your life can improve your physical and mental wellbeing. 

1.    Find Fit Fun. Fitting exercise in your day doesn’t have to be a chore. Go for a jog with your dog, take a horseback ride, or simply chase a kitten around your home to get your heart-rate up. Not only will your pet benefit from the activity, but it may also help you control or lose weight and keep your blood pressure in check. Studies also show that people with pets have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – which reduce the risk for heart attack. Parenting a pet shouldn’t solely be relied upon to achieve heart health, but the possible benefit – combined with the love and joy you’ll receive – make it a win-win. 

2.    Stay Social. If making small talk isn’t one of your favorite things, having a pet can help you bond with others. Whether it’s by meeting new people at pet stores, training classes or dog parks, animals can help break the ice. Having a shared love for animals can help you connect more easily with others. Several pet-friendly restaurants or cafes offer outdoor seating options that make it easier to mingle with other owners. In addition to improving your social skills, increased interaction with others may help your immune system stay stronger, decrease feelings of depression, and lower your risk of dementia. 

3.    Alleviate Anxiety. Pets provide support, stability, and meaning in one’s life. Your furry friends can also help diminish nervousness and build self-confidence if you’re feeling uneasy about something. The simple act of hugging or touching your four-legged sidekick can dramatically reduce anxiety and have a calming effect. Studies show that spending time with pets helps people to relax by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine.

4.    Set Structure. Many pets require regular feeding and exercise schedules. No matter your mood – happy, depressed or anxious – you’ll always have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet. Need extra motivation to exercise in the morning? Stick to a set time and bring your buddy along for your morning run or walk. It’s always easier working out with a partner, including your pet! Establishing a workout routine will reward you with health benefits like reduced stress, improved heart and mental health, and better sleep. 

5.    Combat Loneliness. Isolation and loneliness can make depression or negative feelings even worse. Caring for another living being can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Most pet owners talk to their pets, and some even use them to work through their troubles. Nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat! If you’re looking for a companion, consider checking out local shelters. By adopting, you can take heart in knowing you’re giving a pet another chance at life.

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