September 28, 2009
Pets could be called ‘wonder drugs’
Pets lower hypertension, spur exercise and improve psychological health, and if this appeared in pill form it would be called a wonder drug, a U.S. expert says.
Research in this field is providing new evidence on the positive impact pets have in our lives, Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, says in a statement.
Johnson says the International Society for Anthrozoology and Human-Animal Interaction Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 20-25 will include conference discussions on ways that human-animal interaction benefits humans and animals.
Pets are of great importance to people, especially during hard economic times, Johnson says.
Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance and may be part of answers to societal problems, such as inactivity and obesity.
ReCHAI sponsored the Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound and Stay Fit for Seniors program that matched older adults with shelter dogs, while another group of older adults walked with humans. For 12 weeks, participants were encouraged to walk on an outdoor trail for one hour, five times a week.
The older people who walked their dogs improved their walking capabilities by 28 percent, Johnson says.
They had more confidence walking on the trail, and they increased their speed. Those who walked with humans had a 4 percent increase in their walking capabilities.