Dogs, since time immemorial, have been regarded as man’s best friend probably because of their close relations, loyalty, and companionship to humans.
True, they sometimes create a whole lot of mess around the house leaving you with a few extra chores but these playful and exuberant creatures are worth it, aren’t they?
Especially now that research has proven that owning a dog is good for cardiovascular health since they encourage us get outdoors and run around.
The research, led by St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno, had the health of hundreds of people monitored; and scientists discovered that those who had a furry friend in their homes were more likely to be physically active, had better diets, and were less likely to have diabetes.
Over 2,000 people aged between 24 and 65 years with no history of heart disease were recruited for the study and given a heart health score- based on BMI, diet, exercise level, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol.
Face-to-face interviews were then held with all the volunteers in order to find out about their socioeconomic status, medical history, if they smoked and how active they were in a day.
Each participant also revealed what they had eaten in the last 24 hours to assess general food habits, and further tests carried out to know the blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels of the participants.
The cardiovascular health scores- ranked from zero to 14- of pet owners were then compared to those who did not own pets, and the former had a median score of 10, whereas those who did not have pets had a score of nine.
Lead author of the study Dr Andrea Maugeri said: ‘The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.
‘In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level.’
A total of 61.8 per cent of pet owners were established to be in an ‘ideal’ range of exercise level, compared with 47.7 per cent of non-pet owners.
Also, around 16.4 per cent of non-pet owners had ‘poor’ diet, compared to 9.4 per cent of pet owners.
Pet owners had higher HDL cholesterol– ‘good’ cholesterol- and a lower risk of diabetes, compared to those who did not have a pet.
The authors concluded dog owners are more likely to achieve a good heart health score, as they also had a lower weight and BMI.
Dr Maugeri also suggested that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health.