how dogs help keep us healthy

Following your weight loss surgery, you will need to make some lifestyle changes, including adding a fitness routine. The US Department of Health currently recommends that adults get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per week, and it is essential to the success of your surgery that you follow fitness guidelines.

It’s not always easy to get up and get moving, though and even the most dedicated individuals have off days or weeks. Some people use workout buddies or trainers to help keep them accountable. One idea? Get a dog.

Dog owners are more active

Multiple studies have shown that dog owners are more active, walking nearly twice as much as those who don’t have dogs. Dogs are your own, live-in social support for getting out and walking, running, or hiking. We know that often we’re driven more by others’ needs than our own, and anyone who’s ever had a dog knows: they will push you until they’ve had their walk. Owners of dogs who were bred to hunt — retrievers, spaniels, terriers, and pointers — are generally the most active, as their dogs require the most exercise to keep them happy and well-behaved.

Dogs boost your mood

They’re always happy to see you, they notice when you’re feeling sad, and they love nothing more than to just be with you. It’s no secret that dogs make us happy, but did you also know that even just a few minutes spent petting a dog releases a symphony of hormones that make you feel good? According to a University of Missouri-Columbia study, serotonin, prolactin — the “relaxing” hormone — and oxytocin, the “love” hormone are all released after a few minutes petting a dog. Playing with your dog can have this same affect.

Dogs help lower your blood pressure

Dogs are over-achievers when it comes to improving our heart health. They lower our stress levels, as well as improve our reactions to stress. They lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduce our risk for heart attacks. What’s more, is that for those who do suffer heart attacks, dog owners have an improved chance of recovery.

Dogs help you meet more people

After your walk, head to a dog park where your furry pal can play with dog buddies, and you have a chance to talk and bond with other dog owners. Dog owners tend to be a social bunch who especially love talking about dogs, their best friends. You’ll even find that on your walks through your neighborhood or town centers that fellow dog owners will want to stop and talk to you and pet your furry friend.

While dog ownership is not for everyone, for those who are willing to take on the responsibility, you’ll likely find your dog gives you far more than the work you put in to care for them — including unconditional love and a longer, healthier life.