4 ways pets can improve your mental health while you work from home


Pets give us a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get in some physical activity. — 123rf.com

Dear Mayo Clinic: I have been working from home as a result of Covid-19. The adjustment has been difficult, and created a lot of stress and strain on my mental and physical health. I find that I spend much of my time in front of the computer. I eat more often, and I barely go outside. A friend suggested I adopt a dog to lift my spirits and get me motivated to go outside. Would I see any real benefits from this? Is there any connection between pets and our health?

Answer: Pets play a huge role in creating a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown that pet ownership can enhance fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, improve mental and heart health, and boost overall happiness and well-being. Evidence also suggests that connections to pets provide good social support – an important factor in helping you stick with new health habits.

One of the main benefits is that dogs force us to get up and move for routine and regular walks. A research study found that dog owners more likely report regular physical activity patterns, a healthy diet and ideal blood sugar levels compared to those who do not own dogs. This is beneficial to your heart health because increased physical activity helps strengthen your heart muscles, making it more efficient in pumping blood throughout your body and improving overall heart health.

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