Dog owners take 2,760 more steps per day on average compared to people without pets. That amounts to an additional 23 minutes of moderate exercise.
Most people know that pets even the ones that are not cute and cuddly make great companions but researchers say having a pet can also reduce stress in both children and adults. It can also decrease the risk of asthma in children and lower blood pressure.
"There is research of animals with, dogs particularly, with the elderly, with adults with cancer. We have some data about how helpful it is with adults," said.
And while man's best friend is the most popular therapy animal, dogs are not the only pets making their owners happier and healthier.
In a study published in the Journal Gerontology, a group of elderly people were given five crickets in a cage. After eight weeks, they became less depressed than their peers without crickets.
And when people at an Alzheimers-disease facility dined in front of aquariums with brightly colored fish, they ate more, got better nutrition, were more attentive and less lethargic.
Research also shows when children who struggle with reading read aloud to a trained dog, the dogs showed some signs of anxiety.
That's because they can detect what humans feel and consequently try to make their owners feel better.