When you thought about getting a pet, you may have been most interested in companionship — a friend to make the house a little less quiet or get you moving when you can’t find the motivation yourself. Increased activity and less loneliness are just two of the many measurable ways our pets impact our lives. Here we’ve gathered a few of the key reasons having a furry friend makes life better.

Pets keep you healthy — physically and mentally

According to fitness experts, people are more likely to exercise consistently in groups than they are alone because they feel a sense of obligation to show up for the team. While our four-legged pals aren’t exactly workout buddies, the effort we have to put into making sure their needs are met does get us moving more than we would otherwise. Going for just a 15 or 20 minute walk with your animal on a regular basis:

  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Reduces your risk of vitamin D deficiency, cancer and Type 2 diabetes
  • Helps you maintain your weight
  • Helps with the retention of bone mass, reducing the severity of impact injuries

As for our mental health, UCLA’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Research lab has shared that animals diminish feelings of pain and increase mental stimulation, slowing cognitive decline. Improved memory and chronological recall has been shown in patients with head injuries and dementia who had therapy sessions with animals.

Pets boost your mood

Our pets are some of our biggest supporters. They share our joy when we celebrate, comfort us when we’re sad and are happy to see us no matter how long we’ve been away. Just petting an animal encourages the body to release the “happy hormone” serotonin, which contributes to our feelings of joy, satisfaction and optimism, as well as the “hugging hormone” oxytocin, which:

  • Eases stress by countering cortisol, a stress hormone
  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces cravings

Pets can also help us cope with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression by giving us manageable routine tasks. Whether it’s refilling their food and water or cleaning out a litter box, every step of successfully handling the responsibility of their care is a win, no matter how small. Each of those wins boosts our self-esteem and makes it easier to take care of ourselves. Additionally, pets don’t worry about tomorrow and thus embody being present in the moment, something that tends to rub off on their owners, changing their outlook on the future.

Pets help you make friends

Your pet is a great companion. They’re always there to listen, but sometimes you need someone who can respond to you in words instead of barks or meows. If you need help expanding your social circle, pets are great icebreakers. Take a trip to the nearest dog park or a walk around your neighborhood with your animal and see the joy they bring to other people. Try striking up a conversation with anyone who stops to ask about your pet, and you may end up with a new friend.

Make a home with your four-legged friend in our pet-friendly community

If you’re ready to live a maintenance-free lifestyle, take a look at our living options here at Glen Oaks. Both our TimberCrest Apartments and Terraces townhomes are pet-friendly. Residents have access to walking trails, and with Clear Lake and McIntosh Woods state parks nearby, you’ll have no shortage of sights to see with your pet if you’d like to wander a little farther from home. Contact us today to learn more about our community or take our virtual tour now!