Forget eating right and getting plenty of sleep and exercise ...
The latest advice for living a long, healthy life is to get a dog.
That's according to a new study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, which reviewed data taken about the relationship between dog ownership and mortality from almost 4 million people across 10 studies between 1950 and 2019.
The analysis found that dog owners experience nearly a one-third lower risk of dying from heart problems and a 24% risk reduction in death overall when compared to those who don’t own a dog.
"Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of death over the long term, which is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality," the authors concluded.
So what exactly is it about owning a dog that would make people live longer?
In an accompanying editorial, cardiologist Dhruv Kazi of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center outlined some of the findings ...
For starters, there are well-documented mental health benefits to owning a pooch: "Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood," Kazi writes.
Then there are the physical benefits.
"Several studies have shown that acquiring a dog perforce increases physical exercise (as anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to sleep past the time of a dog's routine morning walk can attest)," Kazi writes.
People who own dogs tend to spend more time outdoors, which is known to be beneficial to health.
While simply petting a dog - especially a familiar one - lowers a person's blood pressure.