If there are so many mental health benefits to having a pet, are the physical health benefits as well? The answer is YES! When completing their daily walks, the owner and pet get their exercise in, and all this physical activity adds up. Interestingly, the most noticeable physical health benefit relates to a person’s heart. By being around an animal, an individual has a lower resting blood pressure compared to those who aren’t in the presence of a pet.
According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABI), those without cats have a 40% higher relative risk of heart attack than non cat owners. As well, in the 2005 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, approximately 60% of dog walkers met the criteria for regular moderate and/or vigorous leisure‑time physical activity compared with about 45% for non‑dog owners and dog owners who did not walk their dog. Additionally, a study of over 2,400 cat owners concluded there was a significantly lower relative risk for death due to cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack, compared to non‑owners during a 20‑year follow‑up.
Please note that you don’t have to own a pet to reap the benefits, simply volunteering at the BC SPCA or another animal shelter, can bring you joy. And who doesn’t want a little more joy in their life?!