Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a loyal companion. What is optimal health about? The unconditional love of a pet can do more than keep you company.

pet-cat-and-dog-pals
Pet Cat and Dog Pals
Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills.

Wikipedia describes “pet” as, “a pet, or companion, is an animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, or entertainment rather than working animals, livestock, or laboratory animals.  Popular pets are often noted for their attractive appearance, intelligence, and relatable personalities.”  For more information from Wikipedia on pet, read this.

Healthy Heart

Dogs don’t just fill your heart, they actually make it healthier. Studies show that having a pet companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced

pet-healthy-heart
Pet Healthy Heart
cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, particularly in stressful situation, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks. Just as important, dog owners who do have heart attacks have better survival rates following the events. 

Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, a harmful stress-related hormone, which lowers blood pressure.  People with a dog or cat present, had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures, while under stress, than non-pet owners. People with a dog or cat were also less likely to have spikes in heart rates and blood pressure while in a stressful situation, and their heart rates and blood pressure returned to normal quicker. 

Phyically Active

Health experts recommend that adults get about 150 minutes, thirty minutes a day, five days a week, worth of moderate exercise.  Dog owners

owner-and-dog-healthy-exercise
Owner and Dog Healthy Exercise
are much more likely to hit their goal.  Most people love to be outside to walk their dog, and be with their dog, and it also encourages the dog owner to be more phsically active.

In turn, that activity helps older individuals remain mobile into their seventies and eighties. Earlier this year, a study in the journal “Gerontologists” found that older adults who walked dogs experienced lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise. 

Drop Some Pounds          

Need to drop a few pounds? Grab Rosko and get walking. Research has repeatedly found that daily dog walks help you lose weight, since they force you to into moderate physical activity for ten, twenty, and even thirty minutes at a time. In fact, in 2010, one small study discovered public housing residents who walked “loaner” dogs five times a week, lost an average of 14.4 pounds over the course of a year. The best part is, participants considered it a responsibility to the dog, rather than exercise, because they took the position that the loner dogs needed them to walk them. 

Social Connection

 As we age, it becomes harder to get out and meet new people. Not so for dog owners. Researchers have found that about 40% dog owners make friends more

owners-and-pets-healthy-meeting
Owners and Pets Healthy Meeting
easily, possibly because the vast majority, four in five, according to one British study, speak with other dog owners during walks. It’s been documented that dog owners in particular, tend to be a little more  outgoing. When dog owners begin talking about their companion animal, everyone tends to open up and really enjoy themselves, including the dogs.  They want to share stories about their favorite, loyal friend.

Whether you make your kids take turns walking the dog or it’s always your job to feed the cat, research has proven having a pet is good for the whole family. Pets can be a very important bridge between family members because of that common denominator, the pet.  Often grandchildren have a hard time communicating to a grandparent, so pets can be a natural bridge, providing a convenient and easy topic of conversation.   Additionally, children often have their first death experience through a pet’s death, which is a teachable moment about life.  Pets can provide the ultimate learning experience, because kids learn how to treat others with kindness and caring, because they encourage taking on responsibility for their care.

Less Stress and Anxiety

There’s a reason therapy dogs are so very effective.   Spending just a

healthy-benefits-owner-with-best-pal
Healthy Benefits Owner With Best Pal
few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals in the brain, that play big roles in you reaching a calming and well being state. People performing stressful tasks get better results when there’s a dog around, too, and studies show dogs ease tension where ever they are, whether at the office, or, between married couples.  Animals can serve as a source of comfort and support.

Therapy dogs are especially good at this. They’re sometimes brought into hospitals or nursing homes to help reduce patients’ stress and anxiety.  Dogs have a way of being in the moment, and very much present.   If someone is struggling with a concern or problem, they know how to sit there and be loving and attentive, focusing on the person the whole time.

More Meaning and Purpose

As we grow older, especially after we retire, it can be difficult to find structure and meaning in everyday life. Dogs take care of that. “They force people to

senior-man-with-his-pets
Senior Man With His Pets
continue to be active and do constructive things,” says Kristi Littrell, Adoption Manager at  Best Friends Animal Society, in Utah.  “So, even if you’re not feeling well emotionally or physically, the dog doesn’t think much of it.  I mean, of course they care, but they still want you to feed them and take them for a walk.” 

Dogs help prevent unhealthy loneliness and isolation, as well, which is key in staving off cognitive decline and disease.  Taking care of a pet helps you to not just focus on just your needs.  It gives you a reason to really get up in the morning and feel needed, because you know you need to get up and take care of your loyal friend.

Dogs may also aid in a teaching setting.  One study found that dogs can help children with ADHD focus their attention. Researchers enrolled two groups of children diagnosed with ADHD into twelve-week group therapy sessions. The first group of kids read to a therapy dog once a week for thirty minutes. The second group read to puppets that looked like dogs.  Kids who read to the real animals, showed better social skills and more sharing, cooperation, and volunteering. They also had fewer behavioral problems.  Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress and anxiety.

Pets are completely non-judgmental, don’t have any motives, take you as you are, and they really don’t care what you look like or what your plans are, because they

owner-and-dog-giving-affectionate-lick
Owner and Dog Giving Affectionate Lick
are “in”, regardless of what the activity is, as long as they are with you .  They love unconditionally, and that enhances your self-esteem.   Your confidence can be improved by the fact that dogs love you no matter what, and to the same extent, cats are very loving to their owners too.   Research published in various journals have found that pet owners have higher self-esteem, as well as, feelings of belonging and meaningful existence than those that didn’t own a pet. 

Furthermore, when a child has no brothers or sisters, research shows that pets help children develop greater empathy, higher self-esteem, and increased participation in social and physical activities

Ward Off Depression

It’s widely believed that dog owners are less prone to depression than none pet

healthy-dog-and-owner-relationship
Healthy Dog and Owner Relationship
owners, largely because they seem to help in so many other areas of health and wellbeing.

Research has shown, therapy dogs, which are animals that do not stay in your home, have been shown to be effective in easing depression for a variety of people, old and young, sick and healthy.  The foundations of healthy mindfulness, or re-centering yourself, include attention, intention, compassion, being in the moment, and awareness.   Most people have to learn how to be mindful for their own health and well being, pets just do it innately and naturally. 

Prevent Allergies

Back in the early ‘90s, experts believed having a dog in your home contributed to children’s allergies. Fortunately, recent research shows just the

child-and-pet-cat-sleeping
Child and Pet Cat Sleeping
opposite is true.   Dogs and cats actually lower a child’s chance of becoming allergic to pets, as much as 33%, according to a 2004 study in the “Journal Of Allergy and Clinical Immunology”, because their immune system adapt and build resistance.  In addition, studies have shown that young kids may even develop stronger immune systems by being around pets. 

In the first year of life, according to research, babies who are exposed to dogs in the household are more likely not to have allergies, asthma, and fewer upper respiratory infections. When exposed at an early age to dander and allergens, we may be less reactive to them over time.   And kids who grow up around farm animals, dogs, or cats typically have stronger immune systems, and a reduced risk of developing asthma or eczema.

Relieve Chronic Pain

Having dogs, or cats, around the house can help distract from and reduce chronic pain. Petting your animal releases

cat-and-owner-healthy-sleep
Cat and Owner Healthy Sleep
endorphins, the same hormones that give you pleasure, and they are also powerful pain relievers.  This has been demonstrated in hospitalized patients who had a visit from an animal and reported less pain simply from one animal visit. Amazingly, Loyola University Chicago researchers found that people who underwent joint replacement surgery, used less pain medication when they received prescribed pet therapy.

And one “American Journal of Critical Care” study found that patients hospitalized for heart failure, had improved cardio functioning when visited simply by a dog. The simple task of caring for a pet can also be a positive distraction for people in pain.

Detecting Disease and Injury

It’s believed that owning a dog can help detect, treat, and manage a variety of illnesses and debilitating events.  A few examples are: 

Detection.  Amazingly, certain dogs have been trained to

owner-and-pet-dog-healthy-communicating
Owner and Pet Dog healthy Communicating
sniff out skin, kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer, among others.  For examle, some pets are incredible, and are able to be very sensitive to their owners’ behavior, which means they can sense plummeting diabetic blood sugar levels before their owners can.

“When diabetics get low blood sugar they get ketoacidosis, or sugar can’t be assimulated as a fuel source, which changes the smell of their breath, and trained dogs can pick up on that scent change,” explains Christopher Buckley, director of veterinary medicine at the Human Society of West Michigan in Kalamazoo. “It’s not in the innate ability of every dog, but they can be trained to do that.” All you diabetics out there, wouldn’t it be worth owning a pet for this purpose alone?

Natural Healing Effect.  It’s incredible, but, service dogs are known to benefit people with everything from traumatic brain injury to autism to rheumatoid arthritis, increasing mobility, promoting independence, and improving overall health.

Calming Effect.  Even more incredible, Alzheimer’s patients are soothed by dogs, whose companionship also seems to mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggressive behavior.

Pure-Bred Versus Strays

I’d be remis if I didn’t offer my opinion on pure-bred cats and dogs and common strays, as they are referred to, such as the ones you find at animal shelters, as pets.  Pets are pets, whether they are pure-bred or strays, as far as their unconditional love for their owners, however, there is

cat-and-owner-healthy-communicating
Cat and Owner Healthy Communicating
just something about strays that are different, in the sense that their love is even deeper and more unconditional.  It seems they know innately that their lives has been saved, and they indeed, owe their lives to their owners.  Now you really know what is optimal health about, when you receive countless healthy benefits of saving a stray’s life.

I have had both pure-bred and stray dogs and cats in my sixty plus years of having pets, and there is a very distinguishable difference betweem them.  If you have had any experience with strays, you will understand exactly what I am talking about.  So, my point is, if you don’t own a pet and thinking about getting one for companionship or for health and well being reasons, do yourself a favor and at least consider getting a stray.  Not only will you be saving a wonderful animal from sure death, but you will have a pet that will simply adore you and be there for you, and be your constant companion, for, forever and a day!

Other Health-Conscious Activities

Healthy activities such getting moderate exercise with your dog, or learning to relax and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, by spending time with your pet, or by building your social circle, by networking with

healthy-restful-sleep
Healthy Restful Sleep
like-minded pet owners, are all excellent ways of achieving and maintaining your overall health and well being.  But, there are a few other ways to promote your health and well being. 

Get restful sleep.  Curl up with your better-half and your loving pet, and get the most relaxing, restful, beneficial sleep of at least seven hours each night, possible,  to restore your mind and body.  And, if your pet (s) are like all of my pets over the years, you will not have to lead them to the bed, they will have already made themselves at home on your bed.

Eat a nutritious well-balanced diet. It is vitally important

healthy-nediterranean-diet
Healthy Mediterranean Diet
to regularly consume fresh certified-organic, non-GMO (non-genetically modified) proteins, carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables, and fiber and whole-grains. Protein meats should be lean, grass-fed (no corn-fed), or free-range, beef, poultry, such as chicken, turkey, and eggs. Fish for protein, should be wild-caught, or cold-water, fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, or tuna. 

Stay away from processed meats such as cooked ham, and sausage. You can find everything you need to know about a nutritious well-balanced diet and where to buy these types of foods, by reading this review, “What Is In Maca Root?“. 

Supplement With A Natural Adaptogen

Help your pet out.  Your pet is doing his, or her part to keep you healthy, now it’s time to help yourself. Maca is an Adaptogen, which means it can help

nutritious-black-Maca-powder-root
Nutritious Black Maca Powder Root
support your adrenals, especially from the impact of chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. What does chronic stress cause? It causes our bodies to overproduce the stress hormone, cortisol. And cortisol can create the permeability issues seen with leaky gut, and cause inflammation and all the symptoms that go with an unhealthy gut. 

Additionally, P Maca helps keep the body from being too acidic by maintaining a normal alkaline pH of 7.4, because it is very alkalizing, while also maintaining enough good acidity in the gut for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.  P Maca also naturally balances all your hormones, in a “normalizing” way, bringing you homeostatis.   For more in depth information on this incredible healing Peruvian Maca, read the following reviews:

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How To Relieve Stress From:  Hormonal Imbalance

Now that you’ve learned what is optimal health about, has this article benefited you and your family?  What are your thoughts on pets and how they can effect your health in a positive way?  Please leave your questions and comments below.