When dogs have a job to do, they give it their undivided attention. It turns out people should probably do the same. Stanford researchers found that attention and memory suffer in those who juggle work, email, and web-surfing, compared to those who focus on one task at a time. Other studies suggest employees actually lose time when multitasking.
You won’t catch your pet going from dawn to dusk without any shut-eye. There’s good evidence humans can benefit from catnaps, too. A study involving about 24,000 people indicates regular nappers are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than people who nap only occasionally. Short naps can also enhance alertness and job performance.
Walk Every Day
Whether you’ve got four legs or two, walking is one of the safest, easiest ways to burn calories and boost heart health. Taking regular walks can also help you:
- Fight depression.
- Lose weight.
- Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Lower the risk of breast and colon cancer.
- Keep your bones strong.
- Keep your mind sharp.
People are social animals, and friendships have measurable health benefits. Researchers in Australia followed 1,500 older people for 10 years. Those with the most friends were 22% less likely to die than those with the fewest friends.
Live in the Moment
Living in the moment may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from our pets. In a study called “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind,” Harvard psychologists conclude that people are happiest when doing activities that keep the mind focused, such as sex or exercise. Planning, reminiscing, or thinking about anything other than the current activity can undermine happiness.
Don’t Hold a Grudge
Part of living in the moment is letting bygones be bygones. Let go of old grudges, and you’ll literally breathe easier. Chronic anger has been linked to a decline in lung function, while forgiveness contributes to lower blood pressure and reduced anxiety. People who forgive also tend to have higher self-esteem.
OK, so maybe you don’t have a tail. But you can smile or put a spring in your step when you’re feeling grateful. Researchers have found a strong connection between gratitude and general well-being. In one study, people who kept gratitude journals had better attitudes, exercised more, and had fewer physical complaints.
According to a popular saying, curiosity may be hazardous to a cat’s health. But not so for humans. Researchers have found that people who are more curious tend to have a greater sense of meaning in life. Other studies have linked curiosity to psychological well-being and the expansion of knowledge and skills.
Indulging in a little silliness may have serious health benefits. Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found a stronger sense of humor in people with healthy hearts than in those who had suffered a heart attack. They conclude that “laughter is the best medicine” – especially when it comes to protecting your heart.
Get a Back Rub
The power of touch is nothing to sniff at. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has found massage therapy can ease pain, give the immune system a boost, and help manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. The touch of a loved one may be even more powerful. In one study, married women experienced less anxiety over the threat of an electric shock when they held their husbands’ hands.
Summer Valley Veterinary Clinic