How Owning A Dog Can Help You Stay Healthy

Several studies have concluded that there are many health benefits to owning a dog, particularly since pets now play a more significant role in their families' lives. Recent studies have found a correlation between pets and the physical health of their owners.

A study conducted by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden revealed that owning a dog could reduce the risk of death linked to cardiovascular disease, reported Nature. The results came from studying about 3 million Swedish citizens ranging from 40 years of age to 80. All the participants were observed for about 12 years, starting in 2001. It seems like none of the participants were diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. Researchers checked for pet owners at Sweden's dog ownership registries and kept track of their health records through the country's national database for hospital visits.

Besides a reduced risk of death caused by cardiovascular disease, researchers at Uppsala also noted that people who lived alone with a pet had a longer lifespan than people who didn't own a pet. The study found that people who lived with only pets decreased their risk of death -- caused by any factor -- by 33 percent and an 11 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to non-pet owners.

TIME suggests, however, that the Swedish study does not effectively link decreased death risk from cardiovascular disease and other causes of death to owning a dog or any pet. In other words, the Uppsala researchers were not able to define a cause-and-effect relationship between owning a dog and reduced risk of death by any means. That said, the Swedish study does reveal a link between a longer life expectancy and in general the better health of pet owners.

Elliptical Reviews conducted a similar study which may have defined the cause-and-effect relationship the Swedish researchers couldn't find. Over 1,000 pet owners participated in Elliptical Reviews' polls.

Based on the results, dog owners admitted to getting about 4 hours and 10 minutes of physical activity -- defined either as exercise or pet play -- with their dogs per week. 98 percent of the dog owners who participated in the study also admitted that their pet encourages an active lifestyle. According to Dairy Goodness, active living can decrease the risk of heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. Physical activity can also improve muscle and bone health as well as sleeping patterns.

In general, both studies discussed in this article seem to say that dogs motivate their owners to get active. So, their pet parents can maintain healthier habits. As a result, dogs owners can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.