Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pet Watch

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pet Watch

Article excerpt

As we all know, owning a pet is an important source of devoted love and affection, but there are health benefits as well. There are the obvious ones, such as walking a dog increasing both the pet's and owner's fitness, but there is a growing amount of scientific evidence on other ways that pets keep owners fit and well. Owning a pet can help with heart and blood pressure problems, depression, stress, exercise, recovery from illness plus general 'wellbeing' and self-esteem. Much of the research into the health benefits of pets has been done in America, but there is an increasing amount of research being done in this country.

Research in America has shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. Having a pet may also produce a better recovery from a heart attack and decrease the mortality from one by as much as three per cent. One of the reasons put forward, apart from increased exercise levels of pet owners, was that stroking a pet releases hormones called endorphins from the brain. These hormones are the body's natural 'feel good' factors, which can lower a person's heart rate. And this can't only be explained because of the increased level of exercise! Pet ownership can also alleviate depression and stress. A study in America in 1999 showed that senior citizens who own pets are less likely to be depressed, and are more active that those who don't. Activity increased regardless of the type of pet and even children who own pets are more involved in other activities, such as sports and clubs. Siegel, an American researcher, showed that senior citizens who own pets are less inclined to go to the doctor in comparison with those who do not own a pet. His research demonstrated that dog owners had 21 per cent fewer visits to the doctor than those who did not own a dog.

Pets also have a huge effect on susceptibility to some diseases and recovery from illness. …

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