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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pets Can Save Your Life

At least according to WebMD.
I recently read an article that described 27 ways pets are good for their humans' health. I thought I'd take a moment to share a few of my favorites with you:
First, there's the obvious- having a dog (usually) promotes walking, and walking is exercise. Plus, when it's not 13 degrees and freezing out, walking gets you in the sunlight which increases Vitamin D and therefore strengthens your bones!

Next, it has been found that children raised in homes that have animals (and they don't specify the animal) have fewer allergies and higher immune systems. In particular it mentioned cat allergies as being far less common in children born into families with a cat UNLESS the mother had cat allergies and a cat is introduced before 4 months. Then the rate of developing an allergy actually goes up. (I just love genetics, they fascinate me)

Third, cats are good for the heart. And not in the lovey-dovey way; studies have shown that people who have never owned a cat in their lives at 40% more likely to die of a heart attack, and DOG owners have a higher rate of survival one year after a heart attack! I have no idea where the correlation is but I'll take it!

Animals are also good for your mental health. Psychologists have found that depression patients benefit from owning a pet. For those who need to talk, an animal will listen to you as long as you want, provided your hand is constantly making a petting motion. It also helps to draw people outside of themselves when they care for another creature. (Of course, one must be careful not to become the crazy cat lady.)

It's also been shown that spending time with an animal lowers stress or anxious feelings. Just 15-30 minutes spent with an animal tends to be effective. Cortisol, the stress hormone also responsible for weight gain in the belly area particularly, is lowered and serotonin, the "happy" chemical is increased. (For those who are wondering, I would assume the animal you're spending time with must be tame as hanging out with a trapped grizzly or puma might only increase stress...)

Dogs especially also tend to help their owners be more social. As the article stated; "A dog is a conversation waiting to happen" as dog owners often like to talk to other dog owners about their crazy pets. If Samson isn't a case in point, I don't know what is. Although perhaps "accident waiting to happen," or "cautionary tale in the making" might be more appropriate.

Exercising with your pet takes on a whole new meaning with these last little tidbits of advice:
1)Stretch when your cat stretches. Sorta like the old adage; "sleep when baby sleeps," the idea is that cats stretch a lot more than humans and are much more flexible. If you mimic your cat and stretch whenever and however he does, you'll release more lactic acid and become more flexible. I however opt not to try to lick the top of my own head OR the other end. Thankyouverymuch.
2) Use your cat or other small animal as a dumb bell. Sure, why not? They're just sitting around doing nothing. Might as well put them to good use!
3) Join a "Doga" class. That's dog+yoga and yes, they do exist. Who better to teach you the proper technique for "Downward-facing Dog?" :)


Cassandra said...

only you! lol......thank you for sharing!

Bradi said...

Maybe you should look into being a 'doga' instructor. Would that make you a "Dogie"?

Krista said...

thanks cass.
and that sounds like a great idea bradi! sam might not cooperate though, he's too hyper for yoga. guess I'll need another dog! Maybe a bassett...

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