Statistics show that 62 percent of American households own a pet.

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Looking for a holistic way to reduce stress, cholesterol and obesity? Get a pet. Statistics show that 62 percent of American households own a pet. According to a national survey, most pet owners say companionship, love, company and affection are the No. 1 benefits to owning a pet.

We know that pets make good companions and decrease loneliness, but numerous studies have shown other profound health benefits of owning a pet:

1. Pets help recovery from heart attacks. A National Institutes of Health study of 421 adults found that dog owners had a better one-year survival after a heart attack, compared to those who did not own dogs.

2. Pets help us calm down. A study of 240 married couples showed that pet owners had lower heart rates and blood pressure as compared to those without pets.

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3. Pets help reduce stress better than our human companions. Pet owners had less stress and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets as compared to when they were with their spouse or friend.

4. Pet owners have less obesity. A study looking at 2,000 adults found that pet owners who walked their dogs had less rates of obesity and were more physically active than those without pets.

5. Pet owners have better mobility in their golden years. Another NIH study looking at 2,500 adults aged 71-82 showed that adults who regularly walked their dogs had more mobility inside the house than non-pet owners.

6. Pets increase opportunities for socialization. Many studies have shown that walking a dog leads to more conversations and socialization.

7. Pets can help your cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that owning a pet can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

8. Pets can help comfort children. Child psychologists have found that pets can be very comforting to children and help them develop empathy. They have also been found to help autistic children with socialization.

So for those of you with pets, continue to enjoy the hidden health benefits of your furry friends. And for those of you thinking of getting one — do so.

Pet ownership may be a path to your good health.

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Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program. Have a question related to alternative medicine? E-mail adrenaline@sacbee.com.