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Pet a Dog. Lower Your Blood Pressure (and more).

What did you do this past weekend? One of the highlights of my weekend was attending a dog show. After a week full of rain the sun finally came out here in Connecticut - and the weekend weather turned out to be absolutely perfect. But it wasn't only the sunshine that put me in such a good, relaxed mood. It was the dogs.


It reinforced what I already know - and what many of you probably know, too. Dogs go a long way toward improving our health. After an earlier post where I wrote about this, a reader responded this way:

"The unconditional love, the sometimes needed distraction from worries, the much-needed push to get out the door and exercise: these are some of the things that my dog offers me when needed most. Living alone can sometimes be lonely...and it's nice to have another heart beating nearby to help fill a quiet home."

Research backs this up: living with pets provides health benefits like lowering blood pressure and anxiety - and boosting immunity, as well. Levels of serotonin and dopamine (those neurotransmitters that make you feel so good) rise when you play with a dog. And several studies have found that pet owners who have heart attacks survive longer than those who don't have pets.

Hmm...there were a LOT of smiling people at that dog show.

It's no wonder, then, that there's even an insurance company that considers owning a pet a positive influence while calculating your fees.

Did you pet your pet today? It might be just the thing to bring a smile to your face and put you on the path to better health.

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(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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