We’re celebrating pets this month at Shea Homes® and Trilogy® Active Lifestyle Communities! If you have a beloved furry (or scaly, or feathery) member of the family – or if you’ve been thinking about getting one as you begin this new chapter of your life – you’ll love to hear that pets are good for both the heart and the soul. Here are some of the health and other benefits of pet ownership:

Pet ownership is heart healthy. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has conducted several studies that show that having a four-legged friend can actually improve one’s cardiovascular health. One study looked at adults who had suffered heart attacks and found that dog owners were more likely to be alive one year later than non-dog-owners. Another found that pet-owning married couples had lower heart rates and blood pressure than their counterparts who did not own pets. And a University of Minnesota study found that cat owners showed a 30 percent lower risk of death from a heart attack as compared to non-cat owners – in theory, due to the fact that owning pets relieves stress.

Pet owners are happier and better adjusted. A study by psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University found all kinds of evidence that pets benefit the lives of their owners psychologically as well as physically. Specifically, pet owners were found to have greater self-esteem and were happier, less fearful, more conscientious, and more extroverted than non-owners.

Owning a pet gets you moving. Just about every dog needs to go on a daily walk, which means you’re definitely going to get regular exercise if you become a dog owner! An NIH-funded study of more than 2,500 older adults found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs, walked faster and for longer periods of time than those who did not walk regularly. The study also found that dog walkers had greater mobility inside their homes as well.

Pet ownership sparks opportunities for socialization. Just like having children tends to bring people together on the playground or through school activities, having pets creates opportunities for conversation and encourages socialization. Living at a Trilogy community, you’ll meet pet owners walking the trails, at the dog park, or at one of our pet-focused events (like this month’s “Petstock” events!) It might not be the primary reason you get an animal companion, but you’ll be amazed how much having a pet will help you connect with neighbors you see out and about.

Pets make people feel needed. If you’re a recent empty nester, you know it can be a transition to go from having a busy household to a quiet one. For some, this change can be especially hard when their children go to college far away. Soon, you will cherish your newfound freedom and this exciting time of your life! However, getting a pet is a wonderful way to ease any feelings of loneliness that accompany life after child raising. Also, lots of studies show that older adults who take on a pet caretaking role feel a sense of responsibility and purpose – both of which contribute to well-being.

The evidence is conclusive: owning a pet is good for you in more ways than one! And even better, when you start living The Good Life at Trilogy, you’ll discover a plethora of activities and events for you and your furry friends. We love pets around here and we’re excited to welcome you and your entire family to experience and enjoy the Trilogy lifestyle!