10th July 2017.Taking care of yourself comes in many different forms. Going outside and heading out for a run or playing some sports will help you improve your athletic ability, it's true. Physical activities for the sake of exercising are really just one way to approach your fitness and, by extension, your general wellness. Remember that wellness embodies more than just your actual physical state of being. You can have a healthy body but poor wellness overall if you aren't also taking care of your social, emotional, and other needs as well. It's important we look at ways to care for our whole body and mind ? not just our muscles. Did you know that owning a pet can contribute a substantial amount to improving your wellness? It's true, and many studies have borne that out in comprehensive research. Empirical evidence suggests that pet ownership can have a startling number of positive effects on our lives. Whether you own a cat or a dog, keep fish, or invest your energy and time into something more exotic, you or your loved ones could see benefits from the family addition. So, with that in mind, what are some of the key ways having an animal around the house helps you?

  1.  Pets can get you outdoors

Do you ever feel like you just don't spend enough time outdoors? Soaking in some sun is good for you 7 Health Benefits of Owning Pets Dog Walkingbecause it stimulates vitamin D production. You'll also want to enjoy the benefits of fresh air! However, our often-sedentary lifestyles mean we spend too much time inside. Getting a pet like a dog is a good way to change that. At a minimum, your dog will need to go outside to take care of its business at least a few times a day. If you aren't taking your pup out for walks, you'll have a lot of energy to deal with at home. That often translates to dogs with a destructive tendency. In other words, you should embrace the opportunity to go on walks, even some of considerable distance, with your dog. Not only will your furry friend enjoy the experience, but you may find it becomes something you look forward to as well.

  1.  Pets can help you move around more

Going outside isn't the only potential physical benefit to owning an animal. We already mentioned that you could go running with a dog, but dogs can help you move around more in other ways, too. Just playing fetch in the backyard can increase your activity level. However, you can also take it to the next level. Why not visit a dog park? It's a chance to let your dog off the leash and play with other animals, while you can get involved in the fun and games too. Playing with animals at home, even with cats, can introduce more physical activity into your life. For an older individual, that could be valuable physical therapy. By limbering up your joints and ligaments on a regular basis, you'll avoid some of the stiffness and pain that can accompany conditions like arthritis. A pet makes those conditions easier to cope with while mitigating some problems.

  1.  You'll experience reduced levels of stress

Being around an animal reduces your stress all by itself, but the act of caring for an animal contributes to 7 Health Benefits of Owning Pets Stroking a Catthat feeling even more. Many studies have shown that being around companion animals reduces our stress levels and makes us less prone to feelings of severe anxiety. The exact mechanism for this action isn't really known. Several physical benefits accompany pet ownership (we'll touch on those a little further down), and many of those play a part in reducing stress. Either way, you will find that keeping pets makes you happier and feel more relaxed all the time. Pet owners often feel lonely much less often than those who do not keep animals. While that might seem like a no-brainer, it's a big deal for your mental health! With such hectic lives, any chance to reduce stress is one we should take seriously.

  1.  Pets provide excellent companions for seniors

Do you have an older relative or parent living with you, or do you have such a relative living on their own? Pairing them up with an animal can have a measurable impact on their quality of life. Reducing feelings of loneliness is even more important for seniors who may be in the middle of a decline in their independence. Whether you care for the animal or they can still do it on their own, you give them a valuable opportunity. For those who can't move around as well anymore, a cat is often an excellent choice. They are a relatively "low maintenance" pet. The mere act of having them in the house can be beneficial. Of course, when it hops up into your lap and begins to purr, you'll find it's a whole new dimension of soothing calm.

  1.  Pets can help mitigate the effects of allergies

For parents of young children, allergies are a huge concern. It's hard to know what your child may or may 7 Health Benefits of Owning Pets Kids & Rabbitsnot be allergic to as they grow. However, some research indicates that early exposure to animals like dogs and cats can reduce the likelihood of developing allergies, even though it might seem counter-intuitive at first. Don't animals shed lots of hair, creating an allergy risk on their own? While that is true for most breeds, exposure to such elements can help the body develop a resistance, making it less likely that your child will develop an allergy to pet dander later in life. Overall, it's a path towards a stronger immune system. Combined with all the other benefits, this is another big "pro" to getting a pet for the entire family to enjoy.

  1.  Pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and more

Perhaps because of all this extra activity and reduced stress, pet owners often see many improvements in some very important health metrics. Blood pressure almost uniformly drops among those with high blood pressure, which can aid in increasing longevity for older individuals. Cholesterol levels have been shown to fall in response to pet ownership as well. Like some of the other benefits, the exact reasons why this happens aren't known yet. However, scientists continue to study the physical benefits. Some animals can even alert you to when something is wrong. Both dogs and cats seem able to respond to changes in our mood ? and our blood sugar levels. Diabetics with animals can sometimes notice their companions acting differently when they are suffering from low blood sugar. How? They may be able to smell the subtle difference in our bodies. Either way, it's an impressive ability.

  1.  Pets open the door to more socialisation.

7 Health Benefits of Owning Pets SocialisingSocial activity is a major component of wellness. Humans are social creatures, and we can only truly thrive when we spend at least some time with others. Pets aren't just a great conversation starter; they also put you in more positions to meet people. Whether that means at the vet office, the dog park, or just on your walk is up to you. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with a fellow dog owner. You might find you have a surprising amount in common with one another. Eventually, you could form friendships that persist outside of interactions that centre on your animals. Feeling like an involved member of your local community is important; the act of walking your dog can be a ticket to enjoying that feeling.

Is it time to add a furry friend to your family?

If you've been looking for a reason to adopt a pet, well, these seven should give you something to consider. From the health benefits their presence brings us to the simple joy of having an animal provide you with affection, pets can offer much to their human owners. If you're a dog lover, a canine friend might even be just what you need to get outside and start exercising more! Going for a run with your dog can be surprisingly satisfying once you develop it into a routine. Consider all your options, and don't forget to focus on every aspect of your wellness ? not just the purely physical measurements.