How Pets Can Help Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

There is nothing better than arriving home at the end of a busy work day to be greeted by your four-legged friend, jumping with joy that you’ve walked in the door.  It’s no surprise that dogs have become a necessity for many living in this country with more than a third of all Australian households owning a puppy.

It’s easy to understand why so many Aussies love being dog owners. Dogs can provide friendship, companionship, unconditional love and plenty of laughs – they are man’s best friend after all! But did you know that pets can also help reduce our stress levels and manage our weight?

Better health and lower body mass index

American researcher Cindy Lentino has found dog owners who regularly walked their dogs had one-third the risk of diabetes in comparison to non-dog walkers. They also sat less every day and had more social support.

Her studies, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, revealed that dog owners have a sense of purpose given that their four-legged friends need to be walked and humans need exercise.

In the research, Ms Lentino showed that dog walkers had lower body mass index and fewer chronic conditions than their counterparts.

Pets can help you stress less and overcome loneliness

Back in Australia, University of Queensland researcher Nancy Pachana has found similar results. In her report A Developmental Psychological Perspective on the Human-Animal Bond, Professor Pachana says there is strong evidence that ongoing human-animal interactions provide relaxation and stress relief and bolster health by maintaining exercise.

She also found dogs were great for instigating conversations with others, which in turn helped reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

“It is clear that the human-animal bond has a unique relationship and powerful influence,” she said.

“They offer love and affection that is unconditional and non-judgmental, particularly in times where human-human contact is not possible or avoided. Enhancement of self-esteem attitudes and emotional security can all flow from having companion animals.”

Motivate you to exercise more

If you need any further convincing that pets are good for your health, Australian researcher from The University of Western Australia Dr Hayley Christian found people who had dogs increased their recreational walking by 48 minutes per week! So what are you waiting for? Just by taking your four-legged friend for a short stroll around the block you’ll be improving your health and starting to forge a lifelong friendship with your puppy!

 

Note: If you are considering getting yourself a new walking buddy, remember that pets are a big responsibility and a lifelong commitment. The RSPCA has some great tips on choosing the right breed for your fitness levels, living situation and lifestyle. Visit www.rspcapuppy.com.au

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