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Paws and effect

If a member of your family answers to a name like Fluffy or Rover, you probably already know how living with a pet can enrich your life. But did you know that animal companionship can be good for your health, too?

Having a four-legged friend to pal around with may be just the thing to help keep you fit and well, suggest researchers. How does your pet factor into your wellness prescription? Consider these benefits of having a friend of the furry—or scaly—kind:

  • Better heart health. Studies show keeping a pet may reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides while raising your activity level—all necessary ingredients to ensure a healthy heart. During a study at the State University of New York at Buffalo, stockbrokers with hypertension adopted dogs or cats after they saw firsthand how powerful pets could be at helping to get and keep their blood pressure under control.
  • Germ resistance. Children who grow up with pets are thought to have stronger immune systems and fewer sick days from school. Surprisingly, toddlers who are raised with pets tend to be less prone to allergies as adults.
  • Recovery power. Pets rely on us to feed and nurture them. It’s believed that people who suffer from catastrophic illness recover more quickly when they have pets so they can get back to them as quickly as possible.
  • Social solutions. Taking tender loving care of your tabby can help ease feelings of loneliness and depression, provide companionship and make you laugh. Pets are also great icebreakers for meeting people.
  • Stress-busting species. Watching fish swim in a tank can act as a natural tranquilizer to calm and soothe you when you’re under stress.

While owning a pet may mean fewer doctor visits for you, it’s a big responsibility. If you can make the commitment, chances are you’ll have a lifelong companion—and enjoy less sickness and more health.