Unconditional Love: Our Pets

[caption id="attachment_4603" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image from NFD contributor Cindy Chafin[/caption] Where would we be this “month of love” without talking about our pets?    Pets give us unconditional love which just FEELS good!  If you have a

Image from NFD contributor Cindy Chafin

Where would we be this “month of love” without talking about our pets?    Pets give us unconditional love which just FEELS good!  If you have a pet – or ever had a pet – you know this is true.  Those wagging tails when we come in the door or the “nose nudges” against us while we are sitting watching television, or those cuddles as we nap on a rainy day, demonstrates the bonds of unique love that can exist between a pet-owner and his or her beloved friend.  I have more cats than I care to admit, and I have to say that they are often day-brighteners for me and give me unconditional furry-friend love.

Did you know that pets also offer us health benefits as well?  Petting an animal can lead to lower blood pressure and can relieve stress. And it goes both ways.  Human touch can have therapeutic effects for our pets, especially if they are feeling sick, stressed, or just not themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bonds that exist between people and their pets can improve fitness levels, reduce stress, and bring happiness to their owners.  Health benefits include:

Lower Blood Pressure

Decreased cholesterol levels

Decreased triglycerides

Decreased feelings of loneliness

Increased opportunities for outdoor activities and exercise

Increased opportunities to socialize

Some animals even serve a special purpose as companion animals.  These animals provide support and companionship to the sick or elderly, or to those who have anxiety disorders, depression, or other special needs.

The National Institutes of Health is conducting research in a variety of areas   to find out the range of pets people live with and how their relationships with their pets relate to health.  One study showed that caring for fish helped teens with diabetes better manage their disease. Another showed that children with autism spectrum disorder were calmer while playing with guinea pigs in the classroom.   It will be interesting to see what researchers learn about the health and social benefits of owning a pet.

So, if you have a pet, go love on them!  That is if they are already not loving on you first!   Here’s to a happy healthier you this February and always.

 

Image from www.pinterest.com

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Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as project director for the Women Survivors Alliance and New Focus Daily magazine. Cindy is masters-level certified in health education by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Cindy has been involved in multiple cancer activities and projects since 2000, including serving as the state coalition coordinator for Tennessee for 13 years, and currently is involved with several cancer organizations. She has served since October 2015 as interim director for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002. She has been touched by cancer personally after seeing both family and friends alike suffer from the disease.

Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as the Women Survivors Alliance and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to partner with New Focus Daily and WSA.