Gentle Care Animal Hospital

Gentle Care Animal Hospital

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Pet In Your Life Keeps The Doctor Away

Lowers blood pressure, encourages exercise, improves psychological health - these may sound like the effects of a miracle drug, but they are actually among the benefits of owning a four-legged, furry pet.

"Pets are of great importance to people, especially during hard economic times," "Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance and may be part of answers to societal problems, such as inactivity and obesity."

In the preliminary program, a group of older adults were matched with shelter dogs, while another group of older adults were partnered with a human walk buddy. For 12 weeks, participants were encouraged to walk on an outdoor trail for one hour, five times a week. At the end of the program, researchers measured how much the older adults' activity levels improved.

"The older people who walked their dogs improved their walking capabilities by 28 percent," Johnson said. "They had more confidence walking on the trail, and they increased their speed. The older people who walked with humans only had a 4 percent increase in their walking capabilities. The human walking buddies tended to discourage each other and used excuses such as the weather being too hot."

Pet ownership may have multiple health and emotional benefits for both children and adults. "Today, pets are in more than 60 percent of American homes and more people are incorporating pets into their leisure time, such as making them part of their exercise routines, taking them to dog parks and bringing them to family events."

Kelsey Jackson
University of Missouri-Columbia


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