Recent data on the topic of healthy aging published by researchers from The University of Michigan posits that owning pets provides several benefits to overall wellness.

The authors explain, “Pets can offer companionship and have a positive impact on a person’s health and well-being.”

Source and methods

A poll of about 2,000 US citizens, ages 50 to 80, states the thesis more clearly.

About 55% of the participants owned pets. Although dogs were the most popular pets by a significant margin, the researchers found no sizeable disparity in boosts to mental health in owners of other kinds of animals. However, it should be noted that nearly 80% of dog owners, in particular, cited their pet as the reason for their increased physical activity (68% of people that owned pets other than dogs seconded this notion).

About 90% of pet owners said that their animals helped them feel appreciated and enjoy life more. Seventy-nine percent believed their pets provided reductions to stress.

More abstractly, nearly 75% felt that their pets gifted them a sense of purpose by way of forcing them to adhere to a daily routine, though more than half of the respondents said that having a furry friend around helped them mitigate physical and emotional ailments to some degree or another.

According to the authors of the poll, “Among those who lived alone and/or reported fair or poor physical health, 72% said pets help them cope with physical or emotional symptoms. Two in five of those who live alone (43%) and 46% of those in fair or poor physical health reported that their pets help take their mind off the pain.”

The most consistent set back seemed to relate to restrictions on freedom. More than half of the participants included in the poll conceded that their pet has made leaving their house and traveling particularly difficult. A little less than 20% claimed their pet presented some financial setbacks and a very small margin of individuals (6%) said their animals had caused them to get seriously injured in some way.

The poll concludes by highlighting the implications of the cons. More than one in four of participants of fair to poor medical health, lamented that their animals’ needs often take president over their own, so it’s important to predetermine if you have the faculties and fortitude to take on a pet.

Factors like location, financial standing and health should certainly be taken into account, to avoid neglecting self-care. Even still, the implications certainly suggest more positive than negative.

Originally published on Ladders.

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