For Mother’s Day: Get healthy, adopt a pet

Mother really does know best on a variety of issues. On this Mother’s Day, it’s nice to know that along with the great basic lessons we got from our mom, loving our pets could be one of the healthiest of all. We all know that unconditional love from a pet is a great boost…but what about the other health advantages.

For many years, various studies have weighed in on the health benefits of having a pet in the family. Various studies have noted that a person’s heart rate decreases and cardiovascular health improves thanks to the love of a pet. On Thursday, the American Heart Association weighed in with its own study.

“We didn’t want to make this too strong a statement,” says Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a professor from Baylor’s College of Medicine and the head of the committee on the report.  “But, there are plausible psychological, sociological, and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiac risk.”

The report reviewed a variety of studies. One of the few randomized controlled studies included in the report looked at 48 stressed stockbrokers with hypertension. They all were put on medication to control their blood pressure and then divided into groups with one group told to adopt a cat or dog.

The study found that when those that adopted pets were around their new furry friends they were “markedly calmer in the face of stressful events than the stockbrokers without pets.” Research has shown there is a sharp contrast between those that walk their own dogs and those that don’t.

“If someone adopts a pet, but still sits on the couch and smokes and eats whatever they want and doesn’t control their blood pressure, that isn’t a prudent strategy to decrease their cardiovascular risk,” adds Dr. Levine.

So on this Mother’s Day, along with thanking your mom for everything else she’s done for you…thank her for encouraging your love of pets. It may have been one of the healthiest moves of all.

Kathy Mordini is a freelance writer that covers the Chicago animal rescue community and pet trends. She blogs for ‘Tails Media Group‘ and ‘ChicagoNow.’  Reach her via email at and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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