Making New Year’s resolutions is a holiday tradition most of us have no trouble honoring. Keeping those resolutions however? Not so much. Fortunately, there is a fun and fulfilling way to improve your chances of sticking with your resolutions. Particularly if they involve being healthier, happier, or finding a mate of the two-legged variety.
Science has shown that the benefits of dogs are significant. They can improve your physical and mental health, increase happiness, and make you more attractive to others.
Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
A slew of scientific studies over the past 70 years have indicated that dogs are good for your physical health. Compared to their canine-free counterparts, dog owners enjoy longer life spans and reduced risk of death.
Indeed, these benefits may be attributed to the lower blood pressure levels and better responses to stress that are part of dog ownership. For people who have had heart attacks, simply living with a dog can produce an large risk reduction of death.
The health benefits of owning a dog for seniors can be profound. Elderly pet owners – particularly those who have dogs – visit their doctors less frequently than their pet-less peers. When exposed to pet therapy, elderly patients with cognitive disorders exhibit decreased agitation, increased social interaction, and improved depressive symptoms.
Dogs also keep their humans moving, more frequently and for longer periods of time. A 2019 British study found that dog owners are four times more likely to walk the recommended 150 minutes per week than non-dog owners. Children who live with dogs spend more time walking and engaging in unstructured activities. So getting a dog generally means getting more exercise.
Why Dogs Make Us Happy
You already know that watching puppy videos can instantly bring a smile to your face. But did you know that taking care of a dog activates the release of “happy hormones”? Known by the acronym DOSE – Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins – these four hormones are scientifically proven to boost your mood and help stave off depression.
The mere sight of a dog can make you smile, and staring into the eyes of your canine companion boosts levels of oxytocin, according to a 2009 Japanese study. Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is associated with human bonding, increased trust and intimacy, and feelings of safety.
The responsibilities of dog ownership also improve well-being by triggering the release of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. The consistency dogs require increases your chances of establishing a regular routine and accomplishing daily tasks, such as feeding, grooming, and walking them.
When you set and achieve goals, your body automatically releases dopamine. Known as the “reward” or “feel-good” hormone, it produces pleasurable sensations that improve memory, learning, and motor system functions. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, and sunlight increases serotonin production, which is known as the “happy chemical.”
So, those daily walks in the park with your pup will make you feel better, both physically and mentally. And simply performing the basic functions of dog ownership will also make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Dogs Can Help us Find a Mate
Besides making you feel less alone, dogs can also increase your chances of finding a partner, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Studies show that women may be more likely to give their phone number to a man with a dog than one without a dog. Others indicate that people photographed with dogs are rated as more likable than those without. One study even found that both men and women are more likely to swipe right on a profile photo that includes a dog. And yes – there are even dating sites like Dig, TinDog and Wowzer, dedicated to matching you with your perfect dog-loving human.
If dating is a numbers game, having a dog can also boost your chances of finding a compatible mate by increasing your social interactions. Whether at the dog park or sidewalk, your furry friend is likely to initiate interactions that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
The fact that pet owners are significantly more likely to get to know their neighbors than non-pet owners also increases the likelihood of meeting a mate, or being introduced to a potential partner by someone in your social network.
Keeping New Year’s resolutions related to health, happiness and matters of the heart may be as simple as welcoming a new dog into your home in 2021.
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