Owning a dog can have a profound impact on overall well-being, particularly as individuals age. Here are six ways in which dog ownership can contribute to longevity:
### 1. **Healthier Heart**
– Studies link dog ownership to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
– A meta-analysis reveals a 17% lower risk of death for dog owners, especially in cardiovascular-related deaths (20% less likely).
### 2. **Increased Physical Activity**
– Dog owners tend to be more active due to regular walks and increased daily steps.
– The additional physical activity aligns with cardiovascular health recommendations, promoting overall well-being.
### 3. **Stress Reduction**
– Interacting with a dog activates the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress and promoting relaxation.
– The positive impact on psychological health aligns with improved cardiovascular risk.
### 4. **Motivation for Self-Care**
– Daily dog care routines instill structure and purpose, encouraging healthy habits.
– Dog ownership fosters a sense of responsibility, leading to better self-care, reduced smoking, medication adherence, and regular health screenings.
### 5. **Better Cognitive Health**
– Dog owners exhibit better cognitive abilities over time, as observed in language and task-related tests.
– Cognitive benefits extend beyond the additional exercise associated with dog walking.
### 6. **Enhanced Social Life**
– Dog ownership facilitates social interactions, reducing isolation.
– Walking a dog sparks conversations and increases social connections, promoting a sense of community.
While adopting a dog solely for health benefits is discouraged, the multifaceted advantages of dog ownership, including physical, emotional, and social aspects, contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling life, especially in older individuals. Enabling older people to maintain their dogs through age-friendly community design and support services can further enhance these benefits.