Monday, August 15, 2016
Most of us have heard of the positive relationship between exercise and endorphin output. For those that love to exercise we know how it feels to complete a good workout. Have you heard of the expression “runner’s high”? So what exactly are endorphins and where do they come into play in the relationship to dogs? Endorphins are a group of hormones the body releases within the brain and nervous system that have a number of physiological functions. They are peptides that activate the body’s opiate receptors causing an analgesic effect. Endorphins are known to decrease pain and stress. Dr. Karen Allen from State University of New York- Buffalo Dept. of Oral Diagnostic Sciences (in 2002) stated that having pets reduces our stress level and if you interact with them even more so. In her study she measured heart rate and blood pressure. Her results indicated that pet owners have lower heart rates and blood pressure than non- pet owners. Pet therapy or Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as it is often known was developed out of the premise that being with an animal can boost a person’s mental and/or physical health. During AAT a person interacts with an animal to relieve depression, reduce anxiety or just bring a sense of well being to one’s day. It doesn’t matter whether the animal is a dog, cat, rabbit or other type. It doesn’t matter if it is an animal brought to you through an organization or your own pet that lives with you. Spending time with a cherished pet will help bring tranquility or calmness to your day. I have personally taken advantage of Maggie’s love and snuggled with her when I have had a particularly bad day. She really has made me feel better! So give an extra hug to your favorite animal and thank them for helping us feel better and stay just a little bit healthier!