Pets May Be Our Best Stress Relief
Sep 28, 2010 - 9:14:04 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Our best companions, always near to us are dogs and cats. Dogs have long been known as " Man's Best Friend", but several studies show that our companions may also be our best stress reliever around. I've heard that our loyal companions (dogs and cats for most of us) add 2 years to our lives (I definitely think my doggies do). This week ahead, The New York Week for the Animals (http://www.newyorkanimals.org/) sponsored by the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals is what I'm dedicating to all our companion animals that bring love and joy, not to mention some childlike fun, into our lives as well. I know that my best companions bring me into the moment, bring a smile to my face, and enhance my life. And research definitely backs me up!
Although a wide variety of species are kept in our homes and near to us for companionship, the great majority are dogs and cats. And according to an article titled Companion Animals and Human Health, "sharing our environment with animals has a profound effect on the health of the humans concerned. As keeping companion animals is a very widespread activity, about 50% of all households in the Western world have some sort of animal, the effects are far reaching". In fact, in another study published in Public Health Reports, the researchers found a positive correlation in survival rates in heart attack patients 1 year after discharge from hospitalization, meaning a higher survival rate in patients who lived with a companion animal than in patients who did not.
One study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology surveyed businesses that allowed pets in the workplace vs. others that do not. The study found that even when employees did not have their own pet at work, they reported less stress, felt that the animals improved their work environment, found that pets increased cooperation between employees, and improved their mental health and mood. In fact, people reported that the pets improved the organization as a whole!
Another study done by a Professor of Medicine at the State University at Buffalo, studied people who were under high stress. These people were providing care to loved ones suffering from traumatic brain injuries. All the caregivers chosen for the study had "stress related" high blood pressure. Guess what? After 6 months, the caregivers who were given pets had significantly improved their blood pressure and heart rate levels, compared to the caregivers who were not given pets. This study used dogs. I consider this a great coping tool! Saving a pet's life by adopting one from a shelter can also give us additional rewards by focusing on the needs of another species who will love us unconditionally.
So, Am I recommending everyone run out and get a companion animal? Not exactly. Pets are a responsibility, but one I think well worth it. The key for me was researching what type of animal was right for me and my lifestyle. Not all of us can care for a cat or dog. Think you can? Go to the link in the first paragraph for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC animals, or to the link below for Best friends to adopt and save a life. Not ready for a cat or dog? For instance, many people who love fish report less responsibility, yet a calming effect when they observed and cared for their fish. Can't get a pet? Feeling stressed? Take a friend's for a night, or for a walk. We can watch "Animal Planet", or even play caregiver for a few days while our friend is away, because it just might relieve some stress and add 2 years to our life! Want to contribute to saving our best companions that need our help? Go to www.bestfriends.org to learn more about their campaigns and the local groups to your area that need help.
Lastly, want to read a wonderful book about a woman who transforms an old farm into a haven for abused animals? It's an amazing first hand heart warming story about the health benefits to both humans and animals, titled Animal Camp by Kathy Stevens, from her Catskill Animal Sanctuary.
Here's to our Best Companions!
Follow me, Junefit every Sunday on Twitter for a new tool taken my book, and this month a "go veggie" tool. AND my screensaver program "Focus on the Tools" is available for PC users. It features rotating flashing tools from my program with beautifully photographed healthy salads in the background. There's even a calendar that shows the month and date! Reinforce healthy eating habits and stay motivated to change while at your computer. Click here for more info JuneFit
June M Lay M.S.
E Friedmann, Animal companions and one-year survival of patients after discharge from a coronary care unit.Public Health Rep. 1980 Jul–Aug; 95(4): 307–312.
Edney AT. Companion animals and human health. Vet Rec. 1992 Apr 4;130(14):285–287. Retrieved from Pubmed.
Want some vital info on what common foods are dangerous to our pets? I found this article to be more helpful than others I've read in the past, http://www.petplace.com/dogs/dangerous-foods-are-they-harmful-to-your-dog/page1.aspx You can also find information on the pet food recall, so let's not forget our best friend's health too!
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