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The Incredible Health Benefits of Dogs

dogs heart health pets walking Mar 09, 2022

by Jim Donovan, M.Ed.

Companionship.

It's a very underrated mood booster.

And that's why I love my dog.

Come rain or sunny weather, our canine companions are always there for us with an attitude of "I love you. It's going to be ok. Keep going."

They become part of the fabric of our families. They go on vacations with us. We take them to get pampered and groomed.

We even buy them gourmet organic food and put their needs before ours daily.

We do it because they make us laugh and smile.

Like this pup last Halloween:

This is my little buddy Merf—a silky terrier. He's a source of daily joy for me.

The benefits of having Merf in our house cannot be understated. His  presence helped nurse me back to health during my surgery recovery.

He never left my side.

And now a recent article from Harvard suggests that dogs may not just be a humans best friend— they can also help lower your risk for heart disease.

Today I want to show you the science behind this incredible discovery, as well as a few other natural ways keep your heart strong.

 

The furry motivator

A 2017 study in the journal Nature looked at the health and death records of over 3 million people in Sweden ages 40 to 80 for over ten years.

They found that:

  • People living in multi-person households with dogs had an 11 percent lower risk of death than in multi-person households without dogs AND the risk of death due to a cardiovascular cause that was 15 percent lower.
  • For those living alone, risk of death was 33 percent lower among dog owners., cardiovascular deaths were lower by 36 percent, and the risk of heart attack was 11 percent lower.
  • People who owned certain breeds of dogs, including retrievers and terriers, had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

So, why do dogs play such an important role in health?

Though more research still needs to be done, researchers point to a few key factors that may be in play.

  • Motivation to exercise: It has consistently been shown that dog owners achieve more physical activity and spend more time engaged in outdoor activities. (It’s also worth noting that single dog-owners tend to walk their dog more often than people in multiple-person households.)
  • Stress reduction: Dog ownership has been associated with elevated parasympathetic (rest and digest) and diminished sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system activity. It's also been shown to support a faster recovery of blood pressure following stressful activity.
  • Better social coping and mood improvement: Having a dog has been connected with lowering psychosocial stress factors, such as social isolation, depression, and loneliness. A dog’s best trait is their unconditional affection for their owner. They also provide companionship that’s important to everyone—especially those who live alone. Companionship and affection are known mood boosters.

Now let’s take a look at a couple of ways to integrate the heart-protecting powers of owning a dog with other natural heart-healthy habits.

 

Heart-protecting music-pet combo

Here are a couple of heart health techniques that pair well with your pet:

The life-saving benefits of walking: Get the leash out, put on your shoes and go for a walk—even a short one! The American College of Cardiology analyzed the walking behavior and health outcomes of 89,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 and found that walking for at least 40 minutes several times a week decreased risk of heart failure by 25 percent. Here are five ways to triple your walk’s benefits.

Music therapy for heart healing: Dogs love music, especially soft relaxing music. Why not turn off the TV and turn on some pre-sleep music to prepare both of you for a great night’s rest? Here’s the new sleep music and audio experience I created to help you get the restorative rest you deserve.

So if you don’t already have a furry companion, consider adopting from your local animal shelter—or even just volunteering at your local humane society to walk the dogs.

Your heart and mind will be glad you did.

Be Well,

Jim Donovan

Jim Donovan M.Ed.

 


The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only and any recommendations are never intended to replace the advice of your physician. 

Copyright 2022 BlueBeat Media LLC

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