Get a Healthier Heart, Mind, and Immune System

I’m going to be that person for a minute:

Ash Lucy

The person who posts about her adorable new kitten!

This tiny girl is Lucy. She’s 3 months old, and she is the SWEETEST thing I’ve ever met. Even Brian (who was less than thrilled about our last cat) likes her!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to write a 500-word essay on why I love my cat. BUT, this new darling got me thinking. I’m so much happier with animals in my life. What’s up with that?

I’m all about HEALTH as a whole, not just exercise. And it turns out, pets are good for your health in so many ways.

1) Healthy heart.  We all know that stress is bad for your heart. The more stressed you are, the more you flood your body with stress hormones – cortisol and norepinephrine. Over time, those can contribute to plaque buildup and hardening arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack. Having pets has been linked to lower blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones. Those cute, furry faces are good for your heart AND soul!

2) Healthy mind. People who suffer from a mental illness or a chronic physical condition have been shown to experience more happiness if they own pets. The good feelings you get when you pet your furry baby are increased “good” hormones, like serotonin, flooding your brain. People with depression tend to have decreased serotonin levels – so loving on animals can help correct that balance. What’s even more interesting is that people with Alzheimers can benefit from owning pets. Animals, especially cats, seem to help them feel more calm.

3) Healthy immune system.  I’ve always said that I don’t have allergies or get sick very often because I played in the dirt as a kid. Well, WebMD backs me up! Growing up in a household with animals actually DECREASES a child’s chance of developing allergies, asthma, or eczema. Being exposed to the pet dander at an early age allows the body to become accustomed to it, and not react so strongly against it. Also, let’s face it, animals are dirty. Kids come into contact with more dirt and germs when they cuddle up to their pets. But that’s actually a good thing, because it seems to help strengthen their immune systems!

If you’re not an animal lover, don’t despair. You can still get many of the same benefits from just spending time in nature. Being outside, getting moderate exercise, watching a beautiful sunset – those are all ways to increase your heart, mind, and immune health as well.

Lucy

I don’t know that Lucy would make a good workout buddy – she would probably try to cuddle with me. But she’s doing good things for my health all the time!

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