NEW YORK (CBS) — New research shows your four-legged friends may actually help keep your heart healthy.

Michael Labelle takes his dogs, Rocky and Livia, to the park often so they can get exercise, but he says he’s grateful he gets the physical activity too.

“I don’t think I would be nearly as active without dogs,” he said.

Now, a new study shows owning a pet may help keep your heart health, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at more than 1,700 people for their study and compared those who own pets to those who did not.

“We found that owning a dog or owning other pets was linked to better cardiovascular health,” Dr. Jose Medina-Inojosa said, “which [was] determined by physical activity, better glucose levels and an ideal diet.”

The greatest health boost was for dog owners. Researchers believe that’s because of the physical activity they get by walking or working out with their dogs.

Other studies suggest owning a dog can have lots of health benefits. Dogs can relieve stress and help with relaxation. They can also help some people be more social and feel less lonely.

“Having a pet, it seems like it’s associated with a better mood, less likely of a person having depressive symptoms and overall sense of well-being and purpose, and that has been showed to be tied up to better cardiovascular health,” Medina-Inojosa said.

Joyce Chau just adopted her dog, Coco, about a month ago and says she’s already noticed she’s moving around a lot more.

“I got to walk more because I got to walk her,” she said.

She says owning a dog is a lot of responsibility, but it’s worth all the benefits.

Researchers remind everyone that decreasing your time sitting, eating a good diet with limited processed foods and added sugars, and not smoking are all ways to maintain good heart health.


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