I love animals — dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, and even reptiles. (I wouldn’t want to cuddle with a snake, but I think they’re fun to watch from a safe distance.)
If you’re an animal lover like me, I’m guessing you have a few furry, feathered or scaled family members in your household. And if you do, I have good news…
You’re healthier for it.
A new study from Italian researchers shows that pet owners are more physically active, eat better and have better blood sugar than people who don’t own pets.
Man, if your pets can keep your health on the straight and narrow, that’s a major pet-owning perk, am I right?
But you should know, there’s one pet that stands out from the pack when it comes to your health….
I don’t want to discourage you from adopting a cute little box turtle or the irresistible calico kitten at your local animal rescue, but dogs dominate when it comes to boosting their owners’ health.
Dogs: Your blood sugar’s best friend
Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy recently discovered that dogs give their owners the biggest health benefits.
The study included 1,769 people. Researchers scored them based on the Simple 7, the top seven factors linked to overall heart health: body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.
All pet owners received a higher score on the Simple 7. Especially because, they exercised more, had a better diet and had balanced blood sugar.
But dog owners had the best diet, did the most exercise and had the best blood sugar scores. There was only one catch…
Dog owners were more likely to smoke, which dragged their Simple 7 score down.
Don’t shop (or smoke), adopt!
How about this…
Instead of spending money on cigarettes or maxi dresses or takeout, adopt a dog. I can tell you firsthand that they get your butt off the couch. I have two dogs, and there have been many times when all I wanted to do was settle into a Netflix binge, but their sad little eyes motivated me to take them for a walk instead.
Of course, I have a disclaimer…
Don’t adopt a dog if you don’t like dogs that much. Or if you’re never home. Or if you can’t (or don’t want) to commit to caring for a dog for its entire life.
If you don’t think dog adoption is for you, consider adopting another pet. Cats are easier to care for and can still motivate you to move more if you play with them daily. I don’t know how much a turtle or snake would improve your Simple 7 scores. But if they bring you joy, they’d improve your life in other ways. And you’d improve theirs. Just make sure to adopt your pet-of-choice from a reputable rescue organization. A great place to start is your local animal shelter.
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- Your heart’s best friend: Dog ownership associated with better cardiovascular health — MedicalXpress
- Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project — Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes