Helping Out with Animals Can Help You, Too

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We've already told you how it feels good to do good. So it might not be too surprising that it's even better when the recipient of your good deeds has an adorable lil' fuzz-face. Volunteering with animals isn't just good for the community. It's also good for your health.

Volunteering Fur Your Health

Doing work for the greater good is a proven way to make you feel happier and more fulfilled. And if you love animals, then what better way to reap those benefits than by volunteering at an animal shelter? You'd do things like walk dogs, re-home animals, and care for pets when they need your help the most. But there are more reasons to volunteer with four-legged friends than the good you'll do. Just being around animals can be great for your health, and there's plenty of studies to prove it.

  • Don't overlook the most obvious benefits: when you walk a dog, you, well, walk. A 2013 study confirmed the common-sense hypothesis that dog-owners are more active on average than people who don't own a dog. So it makes sense that those same people have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • In a 2010 study, participants were given either a living turtle, a living rabbit, or a toy version of either. Whether they were petting a fur-ball or a shell-head, the people paired with real animals reported greater anxiety relief than those with stuffed animals.
  • In fact, the pet doesn't even have to be fluffy; just the act of caring for an animal is good for your mental health. A 2016 study found that when elderly people were given crickets to look after, they reported lessened feelings of depression after just eight weeks of the study.

A Paw-sitive Outlook

Of course, we've long known of the positive effects that animals can have on people receiving medical care. 19th-century doctors often prescribed horse-related activities for certain physical ailments, and therapy-animal programs are currently a staple of hospital treatments. In the 1980s, cardiologists found that heart-attack patients with dogs tend to outlive those without, and a 2010 report from the 12th International Conference of Human-Animal Interactions confirmed that interacting with dogs leads to higher oxytocin production. The bottom line is, being around animals is good for your body and good for your mind — and if you're volunteering, then it's good for the world, too.

So why not get started? Head over to the State Farm Neighborhood of Good® website, select "Animals" from the drop-down menu, and enter your zip code. You'll find plenty of organizations looking for help taking care of little (or large) critters. Whether you want to aid animals or support the humans next door, www.neighborhoodofgood.com can help you find a volunteer opportunity you're passionate about.

Judah & The Lion with LovePup - State Farm Neighborhood Sessions

The band is teaming up with LovePup to pair therapy dogs with children who have special needs.

Written by Reuben Westmaas January 24, 2018
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