The Health Benefits of Owning Pets

Today is possibly the best holiday of the whole entire year – National Puppy Day! The Health Sciences Library is full of animal lovers – collectively the library staff owns more than 20 animals! If you are obsessed with love animals like I do, you already know that spending time with furry friends can improve your mood and make you feel cozy inside. However, did you know that there are actually a myriad of health benefits to owning a pet? And for those of you who aren’t pet owners – many of these benefits also take effect if you just spend quality time with an animal, so you can still reap the benefits through playing with another person’s animal for a bit!

Increased physical activity

It’s no secret that owning a pet increases your likelihood to engage in physical activity – after all, most animals need to be walked and/or played with multiple times a day. This increase in physical activity is very healthy, and can even help you lose excess weight.  A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health of more than 2,000 adults found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.

Spending time with animals can help you get moving more often.

Improved heart health

Spending time with an animal on a regular basis can also improve your heart health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings show that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t.

Improved mood

Not only do pets offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness.

In an ongoing study, a University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have found that interacting and petting animals creates a hormonal response in humans that can help fight depression. Rebecca Johnson, one of the researchers on the team, discusses the findings: “our preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals, specifically dogs.” The research also suggests that interacting with animals can increase the levels of prolactin and oxytocin in a person’s system, helping regulate their mood.

Your pet’s love can help improve your mood.

Improved immunity

Johnson also says that interacting with animals can give you more than a short-term mood boost, it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

As you can see, interacting with animals is a fun and enjoyable way to take care of both your mental and physical health. Why don’t you celebrate National Puppy Day with on of the dogs (or cats) in your life?

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

https://consensus.nih.gov/1987/1987healthbenefitspetsta003html.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6563527

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422527/

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/benefits-of-pets/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-and-risks-of-pet-ownership

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/05/14/1552.aspx

 

Tips for a Healthy Spring

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on April 14, 2016. 

Springtime brings with it a flurry of activity and a sense of renewal. The flowers bloom, the weather warms, and I get an intense drive to clean my home and refresh it for a new season. Although this season abounds with fresh opportunities, it also brings its own health concerns (pollen, anyone?). Follow these tips to help you have a healthy spring and enjoy the best of the season!

blooming-springtime

How will you stay healthy this spring?

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Celebrating Pioneering Women in Medicine: March is Women’s History Month!

Happy Women’s History Month!! Although you don’t have to go far to run into a brilliant female medical student, faculty member, of staff member at the UCF College of Medicine, medical education was not always so. The first American woman to become a medical doctor (Elizabeth Blackwell), obtained her medical degree in 1849, but it has been a slow journey to the more diverse (though still imperfect) medical education system in the U.S. today.

In a previous post, In Celebration of Brilliant Women: March is Women’s History Month, I discussed the current state of the gender disparity in medical education: “Although it is clear that women have come a long way in American history, the glass ceiling seems to be alive and well in academic medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, although nearly half of American medical students and medical residents are women (47% and 46%, respectively), only 16% of deans, 15% of department chairs, and 33% of senior associate/vice deans are women. As of 2014, only 22 out of the 141 deans of American medical schools were women.” Happily, the UCF College of Medicine is ahead of this national curve, and the numbers of women in academic medicine are slowly changing to match those of the larger medical profession.

We love celebrating and supporting the awesome female medical students, faculty, and staff studying at and employed by the UCF College of Medicine, as well as celebrating influential women in medicine throughout history. We’ve rounded up some of these female pioneers in medicine for your Women’s History Month reading pleasure:

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Monday Morning Round-Up #5

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Don’t write us off: People with dementia press for more rights — and respect via Stat News

Peter Mittler, an 86-year-old British psychologist and a prominent voice in Dementia Alliance International, was diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s in 2006, and has since championed against the many indignities that people with dementia undergo.  “Everybody thinks that we are just a medical problem,” Mittler says; “people underestimate us.”

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In Celebration of Brilliant Women: March is Women’s History Month!

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on March 17, 2016,

March is Women’s History Month, and with an all-female staff here at the Health Sciences Library and some serious lady-pride in our back pockets (except that they still don’t really make dresses with pockets – it’s 2017, people! Time for some pocket equality!), we are thrilled to be celebrating this month with all of you.

Although it is clear that women have come a long way in American history, the glass ceiling seems to be alive and well in academic medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, although nearly half of American medical students and medical residents are women (47% and 46%, respectively), only 16% of deans, 15% of department chairs, and 33% of senior associate/vice deans are women. As of 2014, only 22 out of the 141 deans of American medical schools were women.

Here at the UCF College of Medicine, we’re lucky to be ahead of the national curve. For example, 60% of our Medical Education faculty are women, whereas the national average for female medical school faculty is only 38%. Plus, we’re lucky to have Dean Deborah German as our fearless leader and one of the 22 female medical school deans in the U.S. In the spirit of celebrating brilliant women like those studying and employed at UCF COM, we’ve gathered just a few of the many women who have made an impact on the medical profession throughout history.

Elizabeth_Blackwell1-1013x1024

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Tech Talk Thursday: Apps for People Living with Disabilities

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Today we are living in the future. What seemed like science fiction and myth 20 years ago is actually here. We have smart phones, smart cars, and even smart houses! Okay, so we’re still waiting on warp speed and that hover board but civilians are actually taking trips to the moon just for fun (thank you SpaceX!).

In the midst of a technology-driven civilization, it’s hard to think that anyone could be left behind. Unless you are one of the 12.6% (in 2015) of North Americans living with a disability it probably doesn’t cross your mind that often. Society’s underdogs are a small but mighty population with an entirely different set of needs when it comes to technology.

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Monday Morning Round-Up #4

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Air pollution affects preterm birthrates globally, study finds via The Washington Post

A recent study published in the journal Environment International is the first global estimate of preterm births associated with pollution caused by fine particulate matter. The study found that a pregnant woman’s exposure to air pollution has adverse effects on her fetus, with prolonged exposure associated with nearly 1 in 5 premature births globally.

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Daily Activity Tips for a Healthy Ticker

We’ve been reminding you all month long that February is American Heart Month. Today we’re reminding you that lack of physical activity is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Luckily in Florida we have beautiful weather (especially in February) so we can continue to be active all year long – no excuses! But if getting out there to exercise for the recommended 30 minutes a day seems impossible, fear not. Did you know you can get the same heart benefits from breaking up that 30 minutes into short bursts of activity you can fit in throughout the day? Come on, we all have time for 5 or 10 minutes here and there. Here’s how to get it done.

strong heart

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