As it turns out, the 95 percent of people who think of their pets as members of their families have good reason to do so. Pets are more than just cute, furry faces that welcome you home each day. Pet ownership provides many health benefits for people, including physical, mental, and emotional benefits. From boosting babies’ immune systems to increasing exercise levels in adults, pets help their owners in numerous ways.

What Health Aspects Can Pets Decrease, Lower, and Prevent?

Pets can provide heart-healthy perks for their owners. Pet owners have significantly lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than those who don’t own pets. Cat owners in particular are 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular incident such as a stroke. And if you do have a heart attack, pets can aid in your recovery. Dog owners are significantly more likely to be alive 12 months after a heart attack. This is important, because people age 50 and younger have almost twice the risk of premature death after a heart attack among one-year survivors compared to the general population.

When children are around dogs and cats from infancy, they’re less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life. Babies born with a cat or dog at home are half as likely to be allergic to them. Experts believe that “early exposure to pet allergens and pet-related bacteria strengthens the immune system, accustoms the body to allergens, and helps the child build up a natural immunity.” However, exposure to pets anytime after the first year of life has no effect, so the timing really is everything.

Living with a pet can help combat feelings of loneliness as well, which can improve mental and emotional health, even for those who have struggled with a debilitating condition like substance abuse or depression. For example, dog ownership comes with many benefits like providing feelings of comfort, calmness, happiness, and love. You always have a companion around who’s willing to play or cuddle. Pets, especially dogs, can also reduce stress.

What Health Aspects Can Pets Increase and Improve?

Dogs need daily exercise, which usually comes in the form of walks. For their owners, the daily walks are part of their own exercise regimen. Besides improving cardiovascular health, brisk walking also improves lung capacity, bone health, muscle tone, and flexibility. Several studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise per week than those who don’t own dogs. They’re also more likely to meet the federal criteria for regular exercise and have higher levels of overall physical activity. Additionally, dog owners are more likely to participate in other leisurely physical activities, such as gardening.

During those daily walks, owners are likely to encounter other people, many of whom they will stop and talk with. Increased socialization may improve an individual’s physiological and psychological health. One study found that pet owners were more socially engaged than non-pet owners. Another study found that pet ownership led to an increase in social contact, more socialization between neighbors, and a stronger perception that the neighborhood was friendly.

The mental and emotional benefits may be the most valuable perks of pet ownership, and they’re one of the reasons pets are used in various forms of therapy. For example, some hospitals and medical offices use dogs to help soldiers dealing with PTSD. The veterans are able to reenter society more easily and have a decreased suicide rate. Pets are also helpful for children with autism or ADHD. Caring for a pet encourages children with ADHD to focus on responsibilities through a predictable routine, and the sensory experience of touching an animal can be comforting for autistic children.

The unconditional love your pet provides is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pet ownership. You can improve your heart health, reduce stress, increase physical activity, boost socialization, and so much more. Whether you own a cat, dog, horse, or bunny, spending time with your furry friend can do wonders for your overall physical health and mental well-being.

Photo via Pixabay

A holistic approach to medicine is based on the idea that all elements of a person need to be considered together, including body, mind, spirit, and societal factors. Applying this to addiction recovery means healing the whole person rather than just one isolated aspect of their lives, such as physical dependence or psychological trauma. This approach is becoming increasingly popular in rehab centers across the country as more professionals realize its healing and restorative value.


“Holistic” doesn’t mean “alternative medicine.” A holistic practice is any that takes into consideration the whole of the human mind and body, and attempts to treat it as such. In this sense, exercise is wonderfully holistic: it is one of the most reliable ways to improve physical health while acting as a natural mood booster, providing relief from depression and anxiety.

When you are recovering from an addiction, the physical and mental benefits of exercise can be absolutely invaluable. Exercise can make your body stronger and fitter, relieve you from negative emotions, give you a sense of purpose and motivation, and increase self-esteem. All of these help in your journey toward sobriety, allowing you to find strength and support from within.


Meditation – often called mindfulness – is the Buddhist practice of learning to focus, clear, and relax the mind. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular in the West as non-Buddhists discover the mental health benefits of practicing meditation. It teaches you to accept things as they are, let go of negative or harmful emotions, and achieve a sense of inner peace. Learning to do this can be a great support tool during addiction recovery, when the mind is often troubled and seeking some form of relief.

Set up a meditation room in your home and dedicate a few minutes of each day to the practice. You can sit however feels most comfortable, play soothing music, and even burn some incense. The easiest way to get started for beginners is to follow a guided meditation. Check out the top meditation apps as recommended by The Guardian to find the one that works for you.


Yoga is, in some ways, a cross between exercise and meditation. The movements can help build muscle, flexibility, and balance, making yoga an excellent workout that is easily adaptable to all fitness levels. Meanwhile, the focus on breathing mindfully and using the practice to focus on the self makes it deeply meditative. In fact, the physical practice of yoga originated as a way to prepare the body for stillness in meditation.

Yoga then combines the benefits of a good workout and a good meditation session. It can build confidence, identify destructive habits, help you remain present and focused, and build confidence, all of which combine to help you move on from your addictive tendencies.


Aromatherapy is a more subtle way of helping you recover from addiction, but it can be an effective aid. This is because you can use certain scents to guide you toward better moods and more positive states of mind. In particular, aromatherapy can help you combat stress by helping you create a soothing atmosphere.

Invest in a few basic aromatherapy oils. You can start with these five as recommended by MindBodyGreen. Whenever you need to unwind and relax, use them in a diffuser, in the bath, or directly on your body. You can also incorporate aromatherapy into your yoga and meditation practice, which will help you create a more relaxing atmosphere for your mindfulness practice.

These holistic practices are not in themselves cures for addiction. For many people, traditional forms of treatment like counseling will still be useful if not necessary. However, by incorporating holistic elements into your routine and into your recovery treatment, you can help yourself feel stable, centered, and healthy enough to progress and get better. You can learn to fight your urges by controlling your body and calming your mind while developing a sense of confidence and self-love that will be essential to achieving your recovery goals.

Photo via Pexels

For many people, the journey to better mental health begins after a battle with anxiety, PTSD, stress, or substance abuse, and it can be a long and difficult road. No matter how much we may want to feel better, it’s not always easy to make big lifestyle changes. Your schedule, anxiety level, depression, or family commitments may not allow you to do what you truly want to do, which can lead to guilt or other negative emotions, and continue a vicious cycle against your mental health.

Fortunately, there are several easy ways you can help boost your mood and feel good, and if you enjoy spending time outdoors, you can get the maximum benefit while enjoying yourself at the same time. Learning how best to integrate things you love – such as your dog or a favorite hobby – will also help you feel your best.

Here are a few tips on how spending time outdoors can help boost your mental health.

Reduce stress

Getting outside can help boost your mood, especially if you’re spending time getting vitamin D from the sun, and it can also help reduce stress. If you work in an office environment or from home and spend much of your time looking at the same surroundings, getting out into nature will allow you to take a few deep breaths, put your busy schedule behind you, and enjoy the beauty of your outdoor surroundings.

Get some exercise

Spending time outdoors is a wonderful way to get in some exercise that doesn’t involve a gym membership or time on a treadmill. Hiking a trail, playing a sport, or simply taking your dog for a long walk through the park can help you stay in shape, which in turn can help you feel more confident.

Spend time with your pet

If you have a dog, he’ll appreciate any time you can spend with him outside. Pups love running around in the fresh air no matter what time of year it is, and you’ll get the benefit of some relaxing playtime as well. In fact, spending time with animals is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety, so if you don’t already own a pet, consider getting one, especially if you are living sober after a battle with substance abuse.

Make social connections

Playing a team sport, joining a club, or simply asking a friend to join you on a brisk walk will help you stay social and active at the same time. Forming emotional bonds is one of the best ways you can boost your mental health, especially if the bond is with someone you trust and can easily talk to. Consider forming a workout group, or join up with some friends for a weekly trip to the dog park.

Improve your memory

Studies have shown that people who get outside into nature have improved short-term memory function, which is a huge benefit for seniors and people who are living with certain brain-altering diseases. Being outside can also renew your mental energy, giving you a nice boost after a long week of staring at the computer at work.

Boosting your mental health can mean many things, and depending on your lifestyle and abilities, there may be several ways you can help yourself simply by heading outdoors for a little while. Think about the best activities to try where you live and ask a friend to come along with you. With a little planning and an open mind, you’ll have yourself feeling better in no time.

Photo via Pixabay