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Canines and Cardiovascular Health

Are there health benefits to owning a dog? Research, for example, shows that simply petting a dog can help lower blood pressure and relieve stress.

Research has shown that on average, dog owners enjoy longer lifespans and require fewer trips to the doctor.

There’s one kind of medicine with tremendous health benefits that we can’t put in a bottle. In fact, it wags its tail, licks you, and begs to play. I’m talking about the health benefits of owning a dog.

The simple act of petting or hugging your dog appears to reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. That’s because studies show when you pet your dog, the hormone oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone” increases and that helps to lower your blood pressure.

It also decreases a hormone related to stress called cortisol. Research has shown that on average, dog owners enjoy longer lifespans and require fewer trips to the doctor. Heart attack patients who have dogs are less likely to have major problems in the year after their heart attacks. Also, the more strongly attached you are to your dog, the less likely you are to have major bouts of depression.

The companionship of a dog gives you a more optimistic mindset, a higher self esteem, and a lower sense of loneliness. But one major health benefit involves the simple activity of taking your dog for a walk. Because a dog is always ready to go for a walk, you’re more likely to increase your activity level, which is not only good for your heart and waistline, but also very good for your mind.

And a as a bonus, your dog companion is always there ready to go with you, unlike your human friend who might have a million excuses not to walk. So your dog may truly be man’s best friend and his best medicine!

For CardioSmart TV, I’m Dr. Randy Martin.

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