The Unexpected Health Benefits of Having a Dog

If you have a furry friend in the house, it’s likely they are part of your family. They show up in the holiday cards, are prominent fixtures on your social media pages, and may even be the first ones to greet you at the door when you come home. Aside from being cute and cuddly, your family dog may also be improving your family’s health. Here are four unexpected health benefits of having a dog:

Increased Physical Activity

We all know by now that daily physical activity is a pillar of good health. But knowing that is not enough. More than 95% of Americans fail to get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day, perhaps because they struggle to make exercise a daily habit.

Do you know who is the most habitual person in your house? Your dog! They make sure you are up every morning so you can take them outside, to at the very least, go for a walk. Chrissy and Charlie Saunders of Walkzee (an organization that connects wannabe dog walkers with shelter dogs) say that you actually burn more calories walking with a dog, than without.

Tip: If you prefer to let your dog out in the backyard, hang out with him or her for a while. Play catch, walk around, and start your day by moving in some way.

Healthy Distraction

Ever experience a craving so intense you can’t imagine fighting it? Do you find that despite your best intentions to stick to a healthy eating plan, you just need that slice of pizza or pint of ice cream?

You’re not alone. Luckily, dog owners might have a simple solution. If you can distract yourself from your craving for just 15 minutes, chances are it will subside. Instead of plopping down in front of the TV or computer, spend some quality time with your dog. Belly rubs, tug of war, or talking a short walk might be just the healthy distraction you need, and you don’t have to do it alone!  

Improve Your Social Life

As an adult, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make new friends. Long gone are the days where you run into your buddies at the playground. Dogs however, love making new friends at the dog park or on a walk, making it a perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with a fellow dog owner. In fact, Puck has introduced us to many of our closest friends here at CYCLE Kids!

Boost Mood and Fight Depression

The combination of increased exercise, social interaction, and physical touch you get from having a dog can help boost your mood and fight mild to moderate depression. Just having a dog around can help increase feel good chemicals in the brain and reduce stress hormones. At the end of the day, your dog extends you love without expectation or complication, and shows up for you unconditionally.

How does your dog (or pet) help improve your health? Let us know in the comments below!