(AscendHealthy.com) – When the pandemic began, many of us searched for ways to ease the lockdown loneliness. For some, getting a pet seemed like the purr-fect path to easing that emptiness.
As a result, animal shelters are happily reporting empty kennels, while dog breeders are setting up waiting lists into 2021. But can pets actually improve both our mental and physical health during the pandemic? Find out the answer below.
Discover 8 Ways Pets May Improve Health During the Pandemic.
4 Mental Health Benefits of Pets
At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us shifted to working from home. Others lost their jobs or were put on an indefinite leave.
Those changes took their toll. At the same time, we were told to stop gathering in groups, to stay at least six feet from people outside our household, and to wear masks when we went out.
Could having a pet really make a difference amid all these stress factors? Researchers at the University of York and University of Lincoln set out to find the answer.
This study confirms what other experts say: Pets offer multiple mental health benefits during a pandemic, including:
- Less Loneliness: Study participants felt their pets eased feelings of loneliness.
- Improved Coping Abilities: Most individuals also said they could manage their emotions better as a result of their pets.
- Eased Stress: Researchers also noted that people with pets felt less stressed by the pandemic.
- Reduced Anxiety or Depression: Health professionals acknowledge pet power for helping us cope with depression or anxiety.
4 Physical Health Benefits of Pets
In addition to the mental benefits, health experts say that pets can benefit us physically amid the stressful pandemic.
Our pets may help in these four ways:
- Lower Blood Pressure: Our animals may reduce our blood pressure just by petting them. One study found participants’ blood pressure levels lowered when they touched their dogs.
- Fitness Motivator: Pets earn credit for motivating people to stay active, with our pets encouraging us to play with them indoors or head outdoors for a long walk.
- Stronger Immune System: Babies in pet households suffer fewer ear infections and colds, particularly those with cats or dogs before they are 6 months old. Infants raised in these households also tend to have fewer pet allergies or eczema.
- Reduced Heart Disease Risk: Researchers found that dog owners have lower risks of heart disease.
Whether we prefer a dog, bunny, or a cat, our minds and bodies may benefit from just the presence of our pets during the pandemic. Mentally, we may feel less stressed and anxious. Physically, we may lower our risk of heart disease while getting motivated to exercise.
Not sure that you want a pet amid the pandemic? Consider checking with your local animal shelter about fostering a pet temporarily. Some rescue organizations also welcome volunteers to do everything from walking dogs to socializing kittens. Your payment? Licks and purrs.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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