Why Dogs Are Your Heart’s Best Friend

A canine companion can sniff out superior cardiac health - and fetch you a few more years.

Louee Dessent-Jackson |

This article is from our June 2019 issue. Make sure you get a copy for more informative stories on health, fitness and style. 


Men's Health South Africa June 2019

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The world is obsessed with dogs. If you don’t already follow him, there’s a pug named Doug on Instagram that has more than three million doe-eyed acolytes. Online, we hang on their every pant. But research suggests that making your heartfelt adoration for dogs physical can track down serious reciprocal benefits that you’ll like just as much.

Man’s best friend is a life-saver. Not content with merely being the icebreaker for chance meetings in the local park, your loyal pet is looking out for your longevity, too. Uppsala University studied 3.4 million people in Sweden over the course of 12 years and found that subjects who owned a dog had a 33% lower risk of death overall, and a 36% lower risk of succumbing to cardiovascular disease. With CVD being the most common cause of death worldwide – while also accounting for one in six of all deaths in South Africa – there is good reason to keep the threat on a tight leash.

Related: Here’s How To Use The Kids And Pets To Get Fitter And Leaner

Further research has found that time spent with a four-legged friend sinks levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can suppress your immune system if not kept at heel. It also builds up your resistance to allergies and relieves the negative impact that social anxiety and isolation can have on your mental health, which can shorten your life. Not to mention that owning a dog makes walkies non-negotiable, guaranteeing you maintain your cardio quota – even on rest days.

As for picking up after them? Just think of it as extra squats.

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Cats VS Dogs

Photo by depositphotos

Science says there’s but a whisker between our pets in the health stakes.

Light Relief: Joint replacement surgery patients require 28% less pain medication with regular visits from a therapy dog*.

Clever Mogs: Bristol researchers found cat owners are more likely to have university de- grees than dog lovers.

Broad Strokes: Just 18 minutes of dog petting ups certain anti-body levels in your saliva, a sign of robust immune function.

Hello Kitty: Forget the stereotype: a bond shared with a cat is emotionally identical to a human relationship.


For the dedicated pet dad.

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Related: How Being A Pet Parent Can Help You Beat Depression

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