The human-animal bond can bring a range of physical health benefits to our lives. Research shows that interaction with pets can help:
Multiple studies examining children’s exposure to pets found protective effects against the development of both allergies and asthma and showed that children exposed to pets early in life have higher levels of immune system performance. In fact, when comparing school attendance records, researchers found that children with pets at home averaged fewer sick days each year than those who did not have pets at home.
Research shows us that owning a pet, specifically a dog, can significantly impact an individual’s level of physical activity. According a study of more than 5,000 adult dog owners, people with dogs engage in more minutes of physical activity per week and are more than 50 percent more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activities than people without dogs.
Having a dog in the family will benefit children, too. Children from dog owning households are more physically active, and in one study, young children (5‐6 years old) from families with dogs were less likely to be overweight or obese.
Pet ownership can lower the odds of having heart-related health issues, including cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that paired with a social support system, heart attack survivors who have a pet are more likely to have a higher one-year survival rate. In addition, a study of adults aged 50 to 95 years found that compared to non-owners, pet owners had lower blood pressure, pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure, and a reduced risk of hypertension.
The American Heart Association has noted that pet ownership, particularly with dogs, are “probably associated” with decreased cardiovascular disease risk.