A Missouri veterinary research center is preparing to study the ways in which animals provide mental and physical health benefits to older people.
The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) has conducted preliminary studies which suggest that pets help to lower blood pressure, encourage exercise and improve psychological health, the USA Today reports.
A 2008 study by the researchers paired older adults with shelter dogs and encouraged them to walk outdoors for one hour, five times a week. Another group of adults were partnered with a human "walk-buddy."
After 12 weeks, the study found that the individuals who walked dogs exercised 24 percent more than those paired with another person.
While the human walking partners often discouraged each other and made excuses for staying indoors, the participants with pets consistently hit their favorite trails. ReCHAI director Rebecca Johnson told the news source, "Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance and may be part of answers to societal problems, such as inactivity and obesity."
While pets work wonders to miraculously improve our health, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association says that veterinary pet insurance can be used to protect pet health and ensure the financial stability of the pet’s family.