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Pets: Good for Mind, Body and Soul

By Erica Cardenas

Calling all animal lovers! The bond and friendship between a person and their pet(s) is unexplainable. In fact, I’ll be bold enough to say that perhaps it was never meant to be explained, it just is. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are with my pets, particularly my dogs. I’ve always been a dog lover. In fact, I recently stumbled upon my childhood diary which included pages and pages of me listing every single dog I had ever known or come into contact with. I was 8 years old when I wrote that entry titled, “Chapter 2: Dogs.” 🙂 I couldn’t help but chuckle, as the memories came flooding back.

Not much has changed to this day. If you ask my husband, he would probably say that I have somewhat of a ‘dog rescue’ problem. The way I look at it is we all have a place in this world, and when it comes to helping the voiceless and defenseless, it just feels like the right and necessary thing to do.

So you can probably imagine my over-the-top excitement when I learned that we would be taping this month’s episode of “Your Health” at the Arizona Humane Society. 🙂 Cue the fainting host…yep, that was me. Especially when I met the most adorable pup named, Simba, who was wearing his very own neck tie. Just look at that face!

Your Health Arizona Humane Society
Meet Simba. The cutest pup in the world! Photo Credit: Brilliant Sky Media.

This month’s show explores the many health benefits of having a pet. I believe that to be completely true. If you’re willing and able to own a pet, (I’m the first to agree that pets aren’t for everyone), they absolutely can increase your quality of life and overall health.

Let’s take a look.

Boost Fitness

According to a study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health, it was found that not only do dog owners walk more than non-owners, but that they’re 54% more likely to meet the recommended levels of weekly physical activity. Research even shows that pet owners make fewer visits to the doctor’s office, which is 0.6 times less than the average non-pet owner. Impressive, right? Keep reading. 🙂

Ease Chronic Pain

Did you know petting your animal releases endorphins which can also serve as a form of pain relief? This can be demonstrated in hospital patients who say they are in less pain after just one visit from a therapy animal. In this month’s episode of “Your Health”, we highlight the wonderful work that Phoenix Children’s Hospital is doing to comfort patients through their “Paws Can Heal” dog therapy program. These dogs not only provide patients with physical comfort and companionship day in and day out, but they’re also serving as a source of hope. And hope certainly heals. 🙂

Beat the Blues

When we get home each day our Rottweiler, Jordan, always greets us with so much love and affection – all 150 pounds of him. 🙂 Pets not only extend love without conditions, but they are experts at lifting our spirits and mood when we’re feeling down in the dumps. They provide companionship, which can combat feelings of loneliness and boost overall mood.

I’m so grateful for the dogs that have been a part of my story. It’s as if each one came into my life at the moment when I needed them most. Always faithful and true, they’ve challenged me to seek out adventure and inspired me to expand my heart in new ways.

May we continue to celebrate the animals in our lives, for all they’ve been and all that they will continue to be.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Erica Cardenas (@ericacardenas1)

In loving memory of our sweet girl, Bravery “Brave Cardenas. XOXO