Dogs are the best animals on the planet. Yes, we may be a little biased, and we certainly love other animals too, but dogs are special. When you spend your day with a dog (or two), you are constantly reminded to find joy in the little things, such as the changing of the seasons. You are loved unconditionally, and you have someone who can think of nothing better than spending the day with you.
There are hundreds of good things about sharing your life with a furry friend, but did you know that dogs offer you numerous mental and physical health benefits? Read on to learn 5 ways they can help improve your health!
1. Dogs Encourage (or Demand!) Exercise
Dogs, like humans, need varying levels of exercise, but even the most feline-like of canines likes to get out for a stroll once or twice a day. That means that sharing your life with a canine companion means you’ll be heading out for a walk daily, if not multiple times a day.
When we exercise (even just a gentle walk), our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that relieve stress and make us feel happier, and simply getting outside for 20-30 minutes a day can drastically improve our mental health. With a furry companion, you’re also encouraged to be present in the here and now as they explore the world around them.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because it’s low-impact (great for those with joint issues), burns excess fat, boosts the immune system and improves your heart and lung health. Of course, you can always take things a step further and go jogging, running, or hiking with your canine companion!
2. Dogs Help Improve Your Mental Health
Dogs (and other pets) have a calming effect on you when you stroke, play, or even just sit beside them. Spending any amount of time with a dog enables you to feel moments of relaxation and contentment.
The responsibility of looking after a dog also provides you with a structured routine and a sense of purpose each and every day.
This is particularly beneficial for your mental health if you have no human dependents. No matter how you feel when you wake up in the morning, a dog needs you to get up, feed it, walk it, and care for it, and in return, your pet will shower you with unconditional love and support when you need it most.
3. Dogs Can Help You Connect with Others
Owning a dog can be a great way to meet new like-minded people who could become lifelong friends. When on a walk and your dog says hello to another, it is often a great opportunity to get chatting with the owner; after all, you already know you have one thing in common. Your love for dogs!
Even if you just chat with other dog owners in passing, it can help you feel more connected with your community and less withdrawn, especially if you live alone, improving your mental health.
4. Dogs Are Good for Your Heart
The calming effect a dog gives to reduce stress aids not only mental health but also heart health. Interacting with a dog helps to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. All of these effects lead to a healthier cardiovascular system, reducing the likelihood of heart attacks. All that from simply spending time with a dog!
5. Dogs Eliminate Loneliness
Loneliness affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, even if only occasionally, often leading to both physical and mental health problems, particularly depression. A dog is a perfect companion to share your life with and provides you with a sense of security that you may not feel living on your own. You don’t need to live alone to reap the benefits of a canine companion, either – if your partner works long hours or if you work from home, a dog can help you ward off loneliness and enrich the time you spend with your loved ones.
Getting a dog will give you a heightened sense of purpose, help you get physically fit, improve mental health, and generally enable you to live a happier and healthier life, whether you’re in your 40s looking for a running companion or in your 70s looking for a dog to spend your day with while gardening.