Can dogs improve your health?

HealthBeat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Recent studies say a man’s best friend may have more to offer than just friendship.

Local doctors say dogs can offer benefits for your health too.

Kelsie Wright is spending time at the dog park with her lab border collie mix. Over the last year, he’s kept her busy.

“If I didn’t have a dog I probably would just be home sleeping since I worked an overnight last night, but it gets me out here on a beautiful morning,” Wright said.

And getting up and moving is exactly why doctors say having a dog is good for your health.

“It’s been shown that it may help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, improve diabetes, it can help improve stress, and also helps with obesity,” Dr. Richard Clark said.

Dr. Richard Clark, a cardiologist with Sanford Health says recent studies show the best benefits on health were found in people who own hunting dogs, such as retrievers or pointers. He says this all goes back to what experts have been telling people for years: get out and exercise.

“Dog owners tend to get out and do more exercise than someone who doesn’t own a dog. And so part of that is the need to not only help improve the dogs health, but the dog in turn is helping the person’s health as well,” Clark said.

Doctors say dogs don’t just offer benefits for your physical health, but also your mental health.

“It’s been established before that you know just petting a dog has been shown to be helpful at reducing blood pressure and stress levels,” Clark said.

He says the emotional bond between a person and dog can also help social stresses. Wright agrees.

“When I’m laying in bed I’ll reach over, pet my dog or come and see him whenever I feel a little bit down so I think that’s a benefit,” Wright said.

Clark says the main takeaway when it comes to improving both your physical and mental health is simple.

“Find something that motivates you,” Clark said.

Clark added that recent studies have shown higher improvements in health in single people living alone versus families with dogs.

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