Dog Lovers Rejoice! Study Says Adopting a Dog Can Lengthen Your Life

posted: 12/06/17
by: Amanda Mushro
Enjoying sun. Man is caressing yellow labrador retriever. Young man sitting on the hill with his dog. Amazing sunrise in the city. Prague in Czech Republic.

Having a four-legged friend around can help your kids stay healthy, and now there is evidence that having a dog as a pet can actually add years to your life. Well thanks, Fido!

A new study by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that owning a dog can actually improve your heart health and increase your life span. Since having a dog increases an owner's motivation to be more active--your dog helps you to become healthier over time. Since adopting a new puppy a few months ago, believe me, I've got an energetic puppy that motivates me to take her on very long walks every single day just to wear her out. So she is happy and my heart is happy--win/win.

For the study, researchers examined 3.4 million Swedes aged between 40 and 80 for a period of twelve years. They found that the greatest benefit goes to dog owners that are single and are exclusively responsible for walking and exercising their dogs. Researchers say these dog owners were 11 percent less likely to die of heart disease compared with those who lived alone and didn't have a dog. Well, I'd like to know about parents whose kids said they would walk the dog but it ends up mom is the only one walking the dog. Where are those stats?

"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results," said Tove Fall, an associate professor in epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.

However, Fall says it's much more than just the desire to exercise your dog that adds years to your life. "I met another scientist who had a stroke six months previously, and he told me 'it was my dog that saved me,'" Fall said. "Stroke rehabilitation is important and for this man, his motivation to get out of bed was walking his dog. So I think on an individual level it can have huge effects, but it was also interesting to see we could measure it in the whole population."

So the next time you are walking your pooch, go ahead and take the long way home because they deserve the extra exercise and so does your heart.