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How Pets Keep You Young

11 December 2010

Today, I’m going to talk about my pet topic – my puppy :)

More than just furry companions, your pet, whether it is a dog or a cat, can keep you youthful and healthy. I know for sure that I’m at my happiest when I’m with Mochi, just seeing her adorable face and funny antics makes me forget my work, and I’ve been guilty of choosing her company over friends on several occasions (sorry people!).

People and animals have a long history of living together and bonding. Perhaps the oldest evidence of this special relationship was discovered a few years ago in Israel—a 12,000-year-old human skeleton buried with its hand resting on the skeleton of a 6-month-old wolf pup. “The bond between animals and humans is part of our evolution, and it’s very powerful,” says Dr Ann Berger, a physician and researcher at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

On top of making you feel happy (which in turn keeps wrinkles at bay),  studies suggest that four-legged friends can help to improve our cardiovascular health. One NIH-funded study looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. A year later, the scientists found, dog owners were significantly more likely to still be alive than were those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.

Another study looked at 240 married couples. Those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, whether at rest or when undergoing stressful tests, than those without pets. Pet owners also seemed to have milder responses and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets than with a spouse or friend.

Several studies have shown that dog owners also get more exercise and other health benefits than the rest of us. One NIH-funded investigation looked at more than 2,000 adults and found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and less likely to be obese than those who didn’t own or walk a dog. Mochi and I go for weekly runs at Botanic Gardens and I walk her several times a day (climbing up and down the stairs of my apartment).

Before you rush out to get a dog or cat, please bear in mind that pets, although cute and good for the health, is a huge commitment (at least 15 years of your life) and can be costly to maintain (if you are a doting mum like me).  If you can’t imagine that, best that you stick to fishes or hamsters.

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anti aging, Wellness

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