UCHealth is kicking off a new campaign for February’s Heart Month featuring dogs and how they help people live a healthy lifestyle – and the science proves it.
UCHealth analyzed existing research and publications about the benefits of having a furry friend and found lots of information to support it. For example, one study looked at the impact of pets on cardiovascular risk prevention, showing that having a dog:
· Improves motivation for walking
· Increases social support
· Lowers blood pressure response to mental stress
The average benefits of dog ownership appeared to be greater than that provided by a friend or spouse. It is hypothesized that some of the particular benefits of a pet reflect the lack of critical judgment by the pet. These associations were pronounced in patients who already have heart disease.
The research attributed part of this to the bonding hormone oxytocin that is released just by petting a dog. That same surge of oxytocin also lowers blood pressure, wards off depression and boosts immunity. Dog owners tend to get about 23 minutes more of exercise from walking their dogs daily, and having a dog can reduce stress which is good for both kids’ and adults’ heart health.
Dr. Larry Allen, MD, a cardiologist and the associate director of clinical affairs at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, is an enthusiastic supporter of the message. “Diet, exercise, and social connections are some of the most common conversations that I have with heart patients. Pet ownership emphasizes all of these things. I have two dogs who happily greet me everytime I come home, who encourage me to get them outside, and who remind me to keep them on a regimented diet.”
“Every year, health care companies tell you to take care of your heart. Exercise more, eat better, stop smoking, stress less, and the list goes on,” said Manny Rodriguez, UCHealth chief marketing and experience officer. “You ignore it, because you’ve heard it all before. While each one of us is responsible for our heart health, dogs have been shown to be a major motivator when it comes to the cardiovascular health of their owners. Health facts, tips and information will be delivered from the perspective of man’s best friend to the benefit of dog owners and appreciators alike.”
For more tips and tricks to a healthy heart, please visit www.yourheartsbestfriend.com