Owning a Dog Leads to a Healthy Heart

Dogs aren't just great for companionship - they also give your heart a much-needed boost

Getting out to walk your dog, even those slow ambles up the street, can help your heart

Looking to improve your ticker? Dogs are a heart’s best friend

The American Heart Association recently authored a report recommending dog ownership as a terrific way to reduce the risk of heart disease, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

For a start, there’s the obvious benefit that for most people, owning a dog means that they get exercise by walking their hound periodically, if not regularly. It should be noted that most studies have concluded dog owners don’t weigh any less on average than non-dog owners do.

That being said, any extra exercise, even if it’s only exercise-lite, is better than no exercise at all. So, even those slow dog-walking ambles add up in the positive column in terms of helping the heart.

But aside from exercise, there are a few other important heart-health benefits in dog ownership.

Dogs Get You Outside

First, the vast majority of dog owners spend at least some regular time outdoors and I’m a firm believer that there are great health benefits to getting outside regularly — not just from exposure to more sun but also from other as yet unidentified benefits of the outdoors.

Dogs are Social Creatures

Secondly, dog ownership is very social. For example, you wouldn’t believe how many people Tonka and I meet and talk to on our twice-daily walks.

True, I meet a lot of them simply because they want to know if he’s “safe,” as he barrels his 110 pounds over to any newcomer he meets. But hey, that still counts as social interaction in my book, and even better, after Tonka has not devoured their tiny Shi Tzu or something-doddle, the other dog owner and I frequently chat.

Dogs Give You Endless Amounts of Love and Adoration

But perhaps the biggest benefit to your health when you own a dog is the unquestioned and frequently offered love your hound will show you, even if he just wants to eat. But if you don’t question a dog’s motivation, and I choose not to, it’s a wonderful feeling to be greeted at the door every day with a lick on the hand rather than a to-do list plunked in your paw.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.