Then you should consider getting a pet, specifically a dog, according to research that shows the health benefits canine companions have on older adults.
“Those who own a pet, particularly a dog, were healthier from a cardiovascular standpoint,” said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
The study looked at 1,800 people with no history of heart disease and scored them based on Life’s Simple 7 from the American Heart Association: body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.
The study found that people with pets had better cardiovascular health – and people with dogs had the best of all. Pet owners got more physical activity and had better diets and blood sugar – again with dogs bringing the greatest benefit.
The heart association has said that owning a dog increases physical activity and engagement while lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. These are all important challenges for millions of people over 50.
And AARP gathered previous reports showing dog owners have a lower risk of high blood pressure and are more likely to survive a heart attack. Having a dog lowers stress and depression and even eases pain since just looking at a furry friend produces endorphins, our natural painkillers.
So, if you don’t have a pet – particularly a pooch – consider adopting one. You can find a shelter near you here.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.