Man’s Best Friend Lends a Paw to Reduce Heart Disease

NEWS // October 31, 2016

Man’s Best Friend Lends a Paw to Reduce Heart Disease

Most people know heart disease is the leading cause of death in men in the United States, but few know that a potential remedy to help reduce the risk can be found at your local County Animal Services shelter.  Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can contribute to a higher risk for heart disease, but one solution to reduce the risk is to increase your physical activity. And what better way to do that than with a furry friend by your side, helping you to get outdoors, increase your physical activity and support you in your fight against heart disease!  On any given day there are over 300 furry friends available for adoption at the County’s three Animal Service shelters.  Providing a forever home for a pet can help you make a PAWsitive choice to stay healthy. 

According to WebMD, moderate exercise for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce the chance of a heart attack by 30-50 percent.  The dogs and cats at your local animal shelter would love to help you accomplish this.  After all, playing and walking is their specialty…and just what the doctor ordered.  

The companionship of a pet in your home has also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, help you lose weight, and lessen anxiety or stress.  People in stress mode produce chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine which can negatively affect the immune system.  Blair Justice, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health says there is a link between these chemicals and plaque build-up in the arteries.  Petting an animal, or walking or playing with one can help elevate serotonin and dopamine chemical levels to help combat the negative effects from stress. (Check out the infographic here.)

Walking a dog is not only relaxing, but their companionship can also motivate you to get out and explore your neighborhood or community together every single day.  When you exercise you’ll feel more fit, lose weight, and as an extra bonus, pets always attract attention.  It’s a perfect way to maintain social interaction and develop friendships, which are so important for mental health.  

So, adopt a forever friend today and increase your physical activity in a fun, new way.  Don’t miss another sunrise, sunset, neighborhood street fair, day at the beach, or a beautiful walk in the park without your new furry friend.  Adopting a pet can set you on your way to a healthier lifestyle and reduce your risk of heart disease.