Want a healthier life? Get a dog.
A psychologist reviewed dozens of earlier research papers which looked at the health benefits of owning a pet and found that dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lead a healthier life. From BBC:
Dr Wells said the precise reason for the benefits was not totally clear.
"It is possible that dogs can directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health.
"The ownership of a dog can also lead to increases in physical activity and facilitate the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health in a more indirect manner."
Dr June McNicholas, a health psychologist who has specialised on research into the health effects of pet ownership said that an important reason for the improved health of dog-owners was not just the exercise received while taking it for walks, but the opportunity for social contact with other dog-owners.
She said: "For older people, an animal can fulfil the 'need to be needed', perhaps after children have left home.
"In some cases, the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support than another human could offer."