hit tracker From dog walks that help your heart to fish that can manage diabetes, how your body and brain can benefit from your pets – Newsmix.pics

From dog walks that help your heart to fish that can manage diabetes, how your body and brain can benefit from your pets

EASTER bunnies and chicks are great for putting a smile on our faces, but having pets around can make us healthier and happier, too.

From dog walks that get your heart rate soaring to fish that help manage diabetes and cats that can help curb allergies, keeping animals can have a surprising impact on improving your health.

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Pets can be great for your health[/caption]

More than half of the British population own a pet, with 12million dogs, 11million cats and 1.5million rabbits in UK homes.

Today, Sun on Sunday Health’s Dr Jeff Foster and Dr Megan Rossi, The Gut Health Doctor, reveal how your body and brain can benefit from spending time with pets.

Dr Jeff said: “Having animals around has been shown to increase activity levels for their owners and reduce the risk of depression, and there are a host of other proven health benefits in all ages.

“Having a pet is a big responsibility but if you’re in a position to give a fluffy pal time, care and attention, you can reap the health rewards.

“Even if you don’t have your own, make use of pets belonging to family, friends or neighbours to give your wellbeing a boost.”

Dogs

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Taking your dog for a walk is good for your heart[/caption]

TAKING your four-legged friend on daily walks boosts your health as well as theirs.

Dr Jeff says: “Almost 70 years of research found the risk of death from any illness, in dog owners, dropped by a quarter.

“Getting out with your dog has a positive impact on your heart, with a third of dog owners less likely to die of cardiovascular-related deaths than those without one.

“Having a dog is likely to make you more active and help achieve your daily step count, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol in some people.

“It can also be good for your mental health as dog walkers often chat to other people on a regular basis, too.”


Cats

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Cats reduce the chance of developing asthma as a child[/caption]

A recent Japanese study of 65,000 children found those who lived with cats or dogs in their first year were up to 16 per cent less likely to develop food allergies than babies born into pet-free homes.

And the charity Asthma and Lung UK advises that keeping a cat or dog in early childhood can potentially reduce the chances of developing asthma.

Dr Jeff says: “The link is due to the different bacteria kids are exposed to from their pets which helps to boost their immune system early.

“Another study showed adults with a cat had higher levels of social interaction and trust with neighbours.

“This makes them ideal pets for those with mental health problems or loneliness.”

Rabbits

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Rabbits expose you to a range of diverse microbes[/caption]

OWNERS of furry pets, such as bunnies, have been found to have more diverse gut microbiomes.

Dr Rossi says: “Hanging out with your cuddly pals is a great way to support a healthy ­microbiome.

“Animals that live or play outdoors have been shown to bring extra ‘good’ bacteria from grass, hay or dirt.

“It’s thought that direct contact with these pets exposes their owners to a more diverse range of microbes.”

Guinea pigs

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Giving autistic children guinea pigs to play with at school made them more eager to attend[/caption]

THERE are more than one million guinea pigs in the UK and they offer a surprising benefit to children’s mental health, particularly those with conditions such as autism.

Researchers from the US and Australia found that giving autistic children guinea pigs to play with at school made them more eager to attend, more interactive socially with other children and less anxious.

Dr Jeff says: “Their anxiety levels dropped within ten minutes of petting the guinea pigs.

“The evidence was that all animals acted as a social buffer, and unlike giving them toys, had a calming affect on their anxiety that had stopped them from doing well in class.”

Fish

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A study has linked keeping fish with managing type 1 diabetes[/caption]

SEVEN million people in Britain have indoor fish tanks, according to UK Pet Food’s annual audit.

Dr Jeff says: “A study has linked keeping fish with managing type 1 diabetes.

“Diabetics give themselves insulin jabs and control their blood sugar levels.

“US researchers gave a group of diabetic teens some fish to look after and compared them with a group of teen diabetics without fish.

“Those who had to manage the schedule of feeding the fish, cleaning the tank and changing the water saw a significant improvement in their own diabetes management.

“Researchers also found that watching pet fish swim around a tank can lower anxiety.”

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