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).
Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, details the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans.
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.
If you don’t own a dog but would like to adopt one, Get Healthy, Get a Dog guides you in choosing a companion that will suit your lifestyle. It also covers the role of service dogs in the lives of humans and ways to benefit from contact with canines if you don’t own a dog. It also includes a special section on optimal dog nutrition, plus a chapter on exercise, so you know exactly what your dog needs to stay healthy and fit.
Although dogs are wonderful motivators for getting moving, they are not just a means to a healthier end. Adopting a dog is a commitment that will last for many years, and you must be ready and willing to take on that responsibility. If you do, it’s likely you will be richly rewarded with one of the most satisfying, loving, and active relationships you’ll ever experience.