About six months ago, I adopted Zoe, a Portuguese Water Dog (see photo below). I knew that having a pet is a lot of responsibility, but there are many health benefits to pet ownership as well. Zoe has been my constant pal. She is there when I can’t sleep at night or just need a hug, and she gets me out of the condo and meeting people in my neighborhood.
Having Zoe has helped my mental and physical health. Having a dog can benefit your wellness, too. Research shows that having a dog can help you reduce your stress, exercise more, and feel more socially connected.
WHAT CAN YOUR DOG DO FOR YOU?
Though Zoe has caused me some frustration with her puppy antics (chewing my things and having accidents), she, in general, has been a great stress reducer. Research has shown that having a pet can reduce stress. When conducting a task that’s stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present!
In a study on pets and blood pressure, groups of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who got dogs or cats were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t get pets.
I have no choice but to walk or run Zoe, no matter how unmotivated I feel. Usually, though, I enjoy taking her out. We may walk our dogs because they need it or be more likely to enjoy a walk with their companionship. Whatever the reason, dogs increase the amount we exercise.
Give you More Social Support
When I’m out walking with Zoe, people often stop to tell me how cute she is or ask what kind of dog she is, and we chit-chat. Having a dog with us can make us more approachable and give people a reason to stop and talk, thereby increasing the number of people we meet. This gives us an opportunity to increase our network of friends and acquaintances, which also has great stress management benefits.
Also, dogs can help people with anxiety stay calm in otherwise stressful situations. The mere act of touching a dog’s fur or hair can help soothe one’s anxiety. I know that it helps me to curl up with Zoe when I am feeling anxious or stressed.
Summit Performance Consulting LLC works with exercisers of all levels to reach their potential. We’ll help you include your dog in your exercise plans. Call us at 561-325-8363 or email us at Info@SummitPerformanceConsulting.com to learn more.