(Satesh Bidaisee | Fox News) Researchers just discovered a simple way to fight obesity, heart disease, and mental illness – by giving people puppies.
That may sound barking mad. But a new round of medical research shows that dogs, cats, and other four-legged friends can significantly boost people’s physical and mental health – to the point where interacting with pets can actually be an effective form of therapy.
Consider how pets could help the 75 million Americans who suffer from high blood pressure, which increases the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
In one study of more than 1,500 people aged 60 and over, dog owners had systolic blood pressure that was 3.34 milligrams of mercury lower than that for non-owners.
A difference of just over 3.34 milligrams of mercury may not sound like much. But for each milligram of mercury decline in blood pressure, a person’s risk of stroke goes down by 5 percent.
After five months, those who adopted dogs had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not.
When the remaining patients eventually adopted companions, their blood pressure also dropped.
Pet owners are also more likely to exercise regularly. A study conducted by Australian researchers found that dog owners were physically active for an hour more each week than those who didn’t have dogs.
My own research aligns with these findings. In a survey of people in Grenada – home to St. George’s University, where I teach – my team found that less than 13 percent of pet-owners were obese. By contrast, 50 percent of the people in our sample who did not own pets were obese.
One analysis of 3.4 million people spanning 12 years revealed that those who owned pets had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who were pet-less.
Research shows that pets also improve people’s mental health. Read the full story at Fox News.