15 Ways Fido Keeps You Fit
Some of you may have noticed I have a new addition to the family. (I almost feel sorry for my Facebook and Instagram friends who have to endure the million pics I’ve been posting! Sorry guys!) However, if you were one of the lucky ones who’s newsfeed hasn’t been filled up with all my pictures, and you are in the dark, I am now the proud mother to a 10 month old baby boy.
He’s just a baby, but he is already about 30″ tall and weighs 130lbs. He may not be human, but he thinks he is. My big new baby is a Great Dane Puppy, named Marley Beaux (Bo). (We are experimenting with names…he came to us as Marley, but we kinda think he looks like a “Bo”. Anyway, I’m completely in love!
Last fall I lost my Great Dane, Tank, after 12 fantastic years. Although I’ve had dogs all my life, I took Tank’s death harder than I ever could have imagined. He was my best bud when Steve was away doing both reality TV shows, which was 3 months at a time. We had a special bond. I’m not sure if it’s the breed or what, but we were much more closely connected than any other dog I’ve had. Steve and I were both devastated. Our house was eerily quiet.
Well, we finally decided it was time to get another dog – and there was no question it would be another Dane. The short story is we ended up adopting Marley from a loving family (with 2 toddlers and 2 other Danes) who felt Marley needed more attention and love (which we were HAPPY to give!). It was love at first lick!
Honestly, I forgot just how great being a pet owner is. I also never dreamed I could love another dog like I did Tank. I also started to notice he added a new healthy component to my life. Over the last 2 weeks, I noticed I made more time to just enjoy life. As a workaholic, I have a hard time stepping away from work, but Marley forces me to take more breaks, get outside, relax and even play more. I’ve even noticed that my activity on my Jawbone UP band (activity tracker) had even increased.
This past Saturday I took him to dog training at Pawprints, where Marley went through what I call Doggie Boot Camp – complete with obstacle course, running, swimming (pictured left with my sister’s dog & Marley) and all kinds of cool stuff. At the end of the day, I looked at my activity on my Jawbone UP and I had walked 13,153 steps which is roughly 6.5 miles (compared to a normal pre-pet Saturday day of leisure taking only 6,000-7,000 steps). Then I got to thinking, Marley is so GOOD for me!
So, I did some research to learn more about all the health benefits of owning a dog. Study after study has consistently proven that pet owners are healthier than the average person. Take a look!
15 Health Benefits for Pet Owners
- They increase activity. One study showed that people who have pets were 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of daily activity than a non-pet owner. Their desire to walk and play reminds us to get out and get moving too – and I’d have to agree!
- They help ease people out of isolation. Dogs are great conversation pieces and make people feel more comfortable facing the world “alone” – because, while they are not with another person, they have a loving companion.
- They help people handle stress better. One study showed people with a high-stress job and high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than did people without pets.
- They help children’s development. Studies showed children who suffered from wither severe ADHD or Autism showed lengthened attention spans. Pets also teach children responsibility and how to communicate with others better.
- They help boost children’s immune systems. WebMD says “If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies— 19% vs. 33%. They also were less likely to have eczema, a common allergy skin condition that causes red patches and itching. In addition, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals — a sign of stronger immune system activation.
- They are match-makers. Approaching another person out of the blue can be nerve-racking, but approaching someone with a dog is easy and almost always welcomed. The dog gives people something to talk about that is natural and comfortable, making the initial conversation much easier. Whether you are looking for a date or enjoy meeting people, pets make it easier to make more friends.
- They are calming. In a world full of hustle and bustle, people are in great need of “calming down”. Pets help us slow down, stop and smell the roses – or in this case, pet the dog. Playing with a dog actually elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine, nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.
- They are good for your heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets, which showed owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- They speed recovery. When someone is stuck in bed recovering from surgery, or who has limited mobility, a pet can lift their spirits and boost recovery time. One study showed when a dog was part of the medical team, the patients’ anxiety scores dropped by 24 percent. When a human volunteer visited the patient, it just dropped 10 percent. Without visits, the patients’ conditions didn’t change, he says. (read more about therapy dogs)
- They give us a sense of empowerment. Once you have trained a pet to obey your command, it is very satisfying for a pet owner to have a certain level of control, even when life can be completely out of control around you. This sense of empowerment can boost confidence and encourage people to take better care of themselves.
- They make you laugh. Laughing is so good for you, but many of us don’t do it nearly enough. Laughing relaxes your muscles, releases endorphins, boosts your immune system and relieves stress. The more you laugh, the better – and pets tend to do some pretty funny stuff (like getting into the bathtub for no reason and making adorable faces like this, pictured right).
- They fight depression. Pets provide companionship, unconditional love and make people feel important and loved. They keep people in a healthy routine, and help keep them active and social. One doctor said he personally witnessed people eliminate antidepressants by the simple act of obtaining a dog.
- They can detect cancer. Next time your dog sniffs you out, you may want to pay closer attention. There have been multiple reports of dogs sniffing out cancer. One woman reported her dog keep sniffing at a mole and even tried to bite it off. The mole ended up being a malignant melanoma. Another dog correctly detected cancer in 33 out of 37 samples of people’s breath and stool that scientists had collected.
- They help prevent diabetic crashes and seizures. Many untrained dogs have shown behavioral changes when their owner’s blood sugar crashes or is about to have to have a seizure. Therapy dogs are trained to detect a drop in blood sugar or oncoming seizure before the owner begins to feel the symptoms, warning their owners in time to prevent an attack. (learn more about Diabetes Alert Dogs and Seizure Alert Dogs)
- They have healing powers for the elderly. Pets help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity in elderly people who often live alone. They also reduce depression and loneliness, associated with aging or illness, as well as take their mind of physical problems, loss and aging. Even Alzheimer’s patients benefited, with fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog, or you’ve been trying to convince a loved one you need a pooch, now you have 15 really good reasons to back you up! 🙂