Pets help encourage healthy habits in those who spend time with them in a number of ways. If you have the inclination to care for a pet, you’ll find the rewards you get in return make the decision a much better one than you may have expected. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a purebred, either. Support your local humane shelter and take home a pet deserving of a new home.
Gets You Active
First and foremost, pets help you become healthier by encouraging you to get active. Dogs especially need to be taken on walks daily, and sometimes even twice a day. If your dog needs a walk, you’ll be more likely to take a walk yourself, easily fitting your daily exercise in even on a busy day. You’ll want to take your dog for walks because otherwise your dog will become anxious, whiny and possibly destructive. Plus, walking with your dog will help you bond with her. You’ll also be able to vary your daily routine somewhat with your dog when you play games like fetch and tug-o-war.
Even cats can encourage you to become more active. Cats may not need walks, but they need daily activity to stimulate them and keep them at a healthy weight. You can play with your cat by using toys. Have her chase you around the house after a toy on a string or work out your arms by playing fetch with a catnip toy. This will help you bond with her as well.
Gets You on a Schedule
Another way in which pets help encourage healthy habits is that they require you to be on a schedule. Dogs especially, but cats as well, thrive on a regular schedule. Changing their time for eating, going to the bathroom and going on walks from day to day can make them more anxious and upset their digestive health, which means more accidents inside the house and more inconvenience having to clean up after them. If you keep your pets on a regular schedule, they’ll be happier and healthier, and you’ll have less cleaning up to do.
Meanwhile, while you’re keeping your pets on a schedule, you’re keeping your own body on a schedule as well. It’s healthier for you to go to sleep and get up at the same times from day to day, and you can increase your own digestive health by getting into a routine and forgoing stuff like coffee, which you may otherwise need to wake you up if you don’t have a regular sleeping schedule.
Provides You with Companionship
Pets help people in less tangible ways than exercising and routines. Having a loyal companion with whom you can spend time can do wonders for your mental health, especially if you’re prone to stress and depression. Suffering from stress and depression can impact your physical health by making you suffer from headaches, stomachaches, indigestion, fatigue and insomnia; in the long run, stress and depression can increase your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Pets help prevent stress and depression by relieving some of your stress and making you feel loved, no matter what you’ve been through.