How dogs keep you healthy
There are many, many benefits to owning a dog. From companionship to security, they can fulfil a whole host of different roles- but did you know that there is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that they can also help to keep you feeling fit and healthy? For dog owners that have been run ragged trying to keep up with a new puppy this will probably come as little surprise! But for those of you that are unaware, here is a quick review of some of the research which links owning dogs to a healthier lifestyle.
It is hard to open a newspaper these days without reading an alarming story about the rates of obesity amongst youngsters. Whether it is down to bad diets or too many hours locked inside playing on computer games, this generation of children could be facing a health crisis when they hit adulthood. The American Journal of Public Health reported in 2010 that children which grew up in a family which owned a dog were far more likely to take part in regular vigorous exercise than those that didn’t. Turns out a dog is one of the few ways to tear children away from their mobile phones and Xboxes!
Increasingly dogs are used professionally for their therapeutic qualities. Old people’s homes, children’s wards and even addiction clinics are now enlisting the help of therapy dogs to promote the recovery and provide improved quality of life for their residents. Research by the Medical College of Virginia concluded that patients suffering from anxiety responded far better to pet therapy than they did to traditional methods.
Allergies & colds
In 2011 the Journal of Paediatrics discovered that children living in a household which owned a dog were much less likely to suffer from eczema than those that didn’t- flying in the face of concerns that dogs were likely to be a trigger for allergies. Recently research has emerged which seems to suggest that the same could be true for the common cold. Whilst the jury is still out on why this may be the case, it is likely that the dog’s presence is helping to build resistance in the immune system.
Owning a dog is a great way to ensure that you maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. The University of Victoria discovered that, on average, dog owners walked for almost twice the amount of time per week than those without dogs, racking up a total of 300 minutes walking each week. This propensity to take more regular exercise is likely to be the reason behind the American Journal of Cardiolgy’s finding that dog owners that had suffered a heart attack were twice as likely to survive the year after their surgery than those without a canine companion. Which just goes to show how much good a little gentle exercise can do!