People cite various reasons for owning a pet: to stave off loneliness, offer protection from intruders or simply because it's fun to care for a hairy creature that doesn't talk back. But new research suggests that owning a pet may have more than emotional benefits. It might also be good for our hearts.
The study by the American Heart Association, published in the journal Circulation, suggests that owning a pet might help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. While the researchers are not sure why - the common theory is that a pet might force you to get plenty of exercise - there are likely other reasons. The calming effects of pets and their ability to help us to relieve stress is one possible explanation.
Not every pet is stress-free, of course. Fish need lots of attention, and birds tend to head for the nearest window when their cage is left open. Sometimes, keeping a pet would seem to be more work than raising a child (though, you can leave a fish at home when you go away for the weekend).
But maybe that's the point. Staying active and chasing after your pet certainly helps to keep the blood flowing. Here in the UAE, with one of the highest obesity rates in the world, having more pets in our lives may be just what the doctor ordered.