2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Research has shown a positive correlation between pet ownership and physical activity and mood and a reduction in feelings of stress and depression. To further evaluate this relationship a study was conducted with 200 University of Kentucky students, faculty, and staff who completed an anonymous survey. Out of these participants105 were pet owners, 83 people owned a dog (some had a variety of pets), 35 owned cats (some with a variety), and the rest owned some other kind of animal, including horses, birds, and fish. 88% of pet owners and 72% of those who do not own pets said that they exercised at least 2 days a week for 30 minutes. Further, dog owners were more likely to participate in aerobic exercises, such as walking their pet, than non-owners or other pet owners. Another comparison that was analyzed was that pet owners are less likely to have feeling of depression or sadness; only 5 pet owners said that they were often or always sad, while 20 non-owners had these feelings. A larger number of non-owners also answered yes to having been diagnosed with clinical depression compared to pet owners. The pet owners who participated in this survey also had a lower average stress level, 5.56±2.2; compared to non-pet owners experienced and average stress level that was slightly higher, 6.06±2.2. The data collected for this study shows that owning a pet can have a positive effect on a person's life. Pets can also increase feelings of self worth and give individuals a sense of comfort and an undying love. This study shows that it can be a good idea to own a pet to improve exercise habits and to decrease stress in one's life.