Playful Pets Can Keep Us Young

When we first bring a kitten or puppy into our home, their energy is infectious. We spend hours enjoying their playful nature. We devote significant effort harnessing their natural instincts as we train them to play fetch, chase toys, or lovingly pounce while we wrestle with them.

How do animal companions impact our mental and physical health?

The Director of the Cleveland Clinic, Marwan Sabbagh, MD, noted: “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in lowered blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, in an elevated mood.” While this comment was specifically anchored in studies related to mental health, we know from studies dating back to the early 2010s that animal companionship can keep us young. Here are some ways they keep us healthy. 

  • A kitten or puppy will make you play! Part of staying young is being able to play. Too often as we grow older, we lose this playful nature. An animal companion will often force us to be playful!
  • Pets demand extra activity and movement. Everyone who owns a Fitbit or smartwatch experiences those reminders to get up and move. Anyone who has an animal companion in their home rarely needs these reminders. Their need for our care keeps us moving.
  • Animals cuddle and comfort us sending endorphins through our system. That’s right, humans naturally experience physiological and psychological shots of good vibes every time we snuggle up with our furry friends. It’s not just our imagination, numerous studies have confirmed this as fact.
  • Dogs make great walking companions. Walking is the #1 recommended form of staying healthy and active. Walking alone can discourage some people from getting up and staying active. However, if you have a walking companion who is excited to explore the neighborhood, you’re more likely to keep this routine.

These are just a few of the ways our pets keep us active and young. So next time your cat or dog forces you to play with them, count yourself privileged. After all, their playful nature may be your best approach to staying young, healthy, and active.


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