How Dogs Keep Us Healthy
Did you know that Americans own more than 78 million dogs and 46% of American households include a dog?
Living so closely with families, dogs have evolved to be acutely attuned to human beings and their behaviors. Research suggests that dogs bond with humans in much the same way that infants bond with their parents, and that this connection develops very quickly.
There are many ways in which dogs enrich our lives and contribute to healthier lifestyles:
- Filling the need for companionship: For humans, dogs fulfill a basic need for connection, a key component of both happiness and healthy aging. Studies have shown that the more engaged we are in life, with both people and animals, the long and better we will live.
- Boosting activity level: Numerous studies have shown that having a dog leads to a more active lifestyle and that dog owners are more likely to achieve the recommend exercise level than non-owners. A dog incentivizes humans to get outside and be active (even in the rain and snow).
- Helping humans be calmer, more mindful and more present: Dogs epitomize the joyful act of being in the present moment and can help you be more mindful as well. Waking with your dog puts you more in touch with nature and helps you focus on the here and now. Dogs also tend to alter our behavior, helping us be calmer and less stressed.
NOTE: If you don’t have a dog but want to take advantage of a furry fitness companion, stop by your local shelter and inquire about volunteering your time to walk a dog. Shelters love having volunteers stop by and play or walk their four-legged friends.