If we could motivate ourselves, most of us would rise early to get a head-start on the day, maybe go to a few less happy hours and get a few more hours of exercise. As a dog owner, all of that will be built into your lifestyle automatically. Their routine becomes your routine, which makes those healthy improvements a little more effortless.
A recent study found that dog owners take approximately 3,000 more steps per day than dog-less people, even in the winter when going outside is a lot less enticing. That equates to 23 more minutes of movement daily, and around 700 calories burned every week.
Loneliness is just about the worst thing for humans, comparable only to smoking in terms of its negative impact on health. Coming home to a buddy who is always unreservedly delighted to see you is a daily feel-good boost that’s great for staving off the blues.
Your unique microbiome—the trillions of microbes acquired throughout your life that live on and inside your body—have an intricate and profound affect on health. Your gut in particular needs a diverse range in order to keep functioning optimally, and it turns out dogs can aid that. Studies show kids who grow up with pets have fewer allergies and infections and require less antibiotics (which are like an atomic bomb for your gut microbes) throughout their lives.
Every time you stroke and cuddle your dog oxytocin is released, a feel-good “bonding” hormone that lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and prevents anxiety and depression. What’s more, the dog also gets an oxy-high, so it’s a win-win.
All this is to say—go get a dog, it’s doctor’s orders.