Owning a pet for a long time keeps you sharper and happier, a study has found.
People who own pets seem to keep a sharper mind compared to non-pet owners, according to a new study from the American Academy of Neurology.
The study used data on more than 1,300 adults who participated in the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study and found that long-term pet ownership was the most beneficial, according to CNN. The key to reaping the highest benefit: ownership of five years or more.
Animal companions don’t necessarily have to be of the fluffy variety, either. While dogs and cats were the more prevalent pets in the study, people who owned birds, fish and reptiles saw benefits, too.
The study’s authors say that they could only confirm an association, and more research is needed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between pet ownership and better cognitive health. But the relationship between pet ownership and stress reduction has been well-established in numerous studies, and researchers believe that the physiological benefits of pet ownership, such as reduced blood pressure and lower cortisol levels, could impact cognitive health.
The study joins a growing body of evidence that supports what animal lovers have known all along: Pets just make life better.