What is the health impact of pets on people?

Pets benefit people physically, psychologically and socially.   For kids, it is ownership and its corresponding responsibility and the benefits—love and affection.  For active adults, it can be a  stress reducer and can physically be beneficial  if you exercise with your pet.  For older adults,  it can bridge the gap of  isolation and build a bond of love.

  
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How do pets help active adults?

Dog walking helps you and your dog. With 25-40% of dogs and 66% of adults being overweight,walking your dog longer distances (assuming it is not a young puppy, old, or ill), will help you and your pet. Most dogs are more than willing. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could walk your neighbor’s dog.

Walking slows the aging process because it helps you reduce your risk of heart attack, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes, reduces stress, helps with weight control, lowers blood sugar and increases “good” cholesterol and protects against hip fractures. Your pet receives similar health benefits with exercise.

Whether you are jogging in Central Park, NY with your pet or biking, or walking, more exercise will help both you and your pet through stress reduction, weight control, and overall metabolic benefits.

  
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How do pets help seniors?

For people who are elderly, disabled or less mobile and who do not have a strong social support system, a pet can offer psychological benefits—relief  from depression.

In nursing homes, pets can  have offer psycho-social benefits that are superior to other therapies such as arts and crafts, friendly visitor programs, and other programs. The impact on physical illnesses is being researched and is more challenging because it is difficult to isolate intervention methodologies.

Source: NIH, National Library of Medicine

  
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How do pets help kids?

According to the NIH/National Library of Medicine, studies show developmental changes in how kids interact with pets—toddlers (2-3) are more likely to hit, poke, or grab their pets; 3-4 years olds tend to pet their animals more, and 5-6 years olds hug, stroke and massage their pets—all of which is parallel to interaction with familiar humans.

Kids rate their own pets high on ownership, love and affection. They rate their relationship with their siblings as high on companionship but lower on love and affection and vice versa for grandparents.

Source:  NIH, National Library of Medicine

  
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