Wednesday Workout: Guest Amy Shojai and the health benefits of cats and dogs

Today 71.4 million households in the U.S. own at least one pet — that’s 62 percent of the U.S. population.  This “pet generation” has long known what science now proves — pets are good for our health, especially when it comes to stress reduction.

When stress accumulates, it increases a myriad of health problems. Stress can actually be physiologically measured because your mood is affected by hormones and chemicals released in response to stress. Here’s how it works.

Having a pet is a stress buffer and the closer the bond, the greater the relief. Within 15 to 30 minutes in the presence of a cat, dog or even swimming fish, your body responds. Levels of the hormone cortisol drops and the “feel good” chemical serotonin increases. Some doctors now actually recommend patients get a pet — a furry prescription! Read my AOL Healthy Living article to learn more about how your furry wonders benefit your health.

Num-num-num-num...Watching puppies play and playing with them offers you BOTH great benefits.

But did you know that the stress relief works both ways? Yep, petting your puppy or kitty not only reduces your stress, it makes the pet healthier, too. You don’t even have to touch them for this pet effect to work. For instance, playing with your puppy is a powerful bonding tool that has many benefits. Check out all the puppy-licious details about why puppies play and some favorite puppy games just in time for the long holiday weekend!

I lost weight when Magical-Dawg came to live with us. He MAKES me get off my ass-ets and go for a walk, even when I’d rather vegetate with the laptop or Kindle. He also knows when I’m angst-ing, and insists on becoming a lap dog (all 85+ pounds of him!). Seren-kitty keeps my blood pressure low with her purrs and whisker-kisses. 

I’ve known colleagues who have pets that alerted them to health issues or that act as service or therapy animals. And during research for my natural healing pet book, I heard from many folks who had pets that became sick when they felt bad, and totally recovered when the owner’s emotional health improved.

How about you? How have your fur-kids helped your health–physically and/or emotionally? Please share in the comments!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!


My thanks to Amy Shojai for granting me permission to share this post.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)


Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing,


And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous. Bob Mayer Jenni Holbrook Kristen Lamb Inspiration for Writers, Inc. Natalie Markey Amy Shojai


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