Relieve Stress by Spending Time with Animals

A four-legged or feathered friend can ease stress, improve your nutrition, and more.

By Dana Blinder

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Pets are good for your healthA pet prescription can remedy all sorts of problems, says animal expert Arden Moore. Spending time around animals, such as going bird watching, enjoying the company of a therapy dog, or even playing with your pet spider can be beneficial to your well-being. “There’s something about the animal kingdom that possesses the ability for us to enjoy life a little better,” says Moore, author of more than 20 pet books and radio host of Oh Behave, an online Pet Life Radio show. Read on for five reasons to include some animal time in your day.

1. They relax you
Petting your cat or dog may be noticeably enjoyable for them, but the act can relax you, as well. Moore suggests petting with a purpose to increase the release of feel-good hormones in animals and humans. “Give your dog or cat a head-to-tail therapeutic massage by running hand over hand through the body,” she says. Your touch relaxes the animal and releases feel-good endorphins in you, reducing your heart rate. A therapeutic pet massage can also be used to regularly check animals for fleas or suspicious bumps, or to relieve muscle knots, says Moore.

2. They reduce blood pressure
Communicating with animals may lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health. Moore suggests engaging animals in “happy talk,” or speaking in an upbeat tone. “Happy talk or laughter around animals releases hormones in humans that lower blood pressure, and make animals feel better too,” she says. Thinking happy thoughts when talking to your pet or speaking to birds and squirrels in your backyard may seem silly, but the conversation can put you at ease (even if it’s one-sided).

 
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