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25 October . 2019

Love a dog, live a longer life

Being a dog person could extend your life, with a 24% reduction for death from any cause, according to a new study published in “Circulation,” a journal of the American Heart Association.

That’s especially true for people who live in a community like Sweetwater, with more than 700 acres of parks, trails and natural open space that encourage residents to get out and enjoy the life-extending benefits of exercise with their dogs.

“Our analysis found that having a dog is actually protector against dying of any cause,” said Dr. Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist with Mount Sinai Hospital and lead author of the study.

The landmark meta-analysis looked at 10 studies published in the past 70 years, with data from more than 3 million participants in the United States and other countries.

The analysis concluded that dog owners were likely to live longer than people without dogs, with dog owners enjoying a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause. People with heart problems had an even greater benefit, with a 31% reduced risk.

A big part of the life-saving benefit was traced to the increased physical activity that comes from owning a dog. Walking a dog 20 to 30 minutes a day helps people meet the AHA’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

Dogs also help people manage stress and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, the study concluded.

A separate study published in “Circulation” found that people who owned dogs had better outcomes after suffering a heart attack or stroke. Dog owners who lived along got the greatest benefit, with a 33% lower risk of death.

Other studies have suggested that people with dogs have a better cholesterol profile and lower blood pressure. “One study, my favorite, found just the effect of petting a dog can reduce your blood pressure as much as medication,” said Kramer.

Learn more about Sweetwater’s trails and open spaces that offer a piece of Hill Country heaven for dogs and people.