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Pets & Heart Health

With millions of Americans working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, our pets are becoming more important to our health than ever, reports the American Heart Association.

The organization is bringing back its "Best Friend Fridays" initiative in June to encourage people to incorporate pets into their workday and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits provided by our furry family members.

The American Heart Association has shared five ways that having a pet around can help us during the crisis:

1. Pets can reduce work-related stress. Approximately two out of three employees say work stresses them out, while 40% say their job gets in the way of their health. Studies show that pets in the workplace may help reduce stress, increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction.

2. Pets can help increase productivity. When a dog joins a collaborative setting -- even if that’s a virtual meeting -- group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion and camaraderie.

3. Companion animals help manage anxiety. Now more than ever, many people are feeling anxious or are struggling with mental health, and pets provide companionship and unconditional love.

4. Pets keep owners active. Dog owners are more likely to fit in the recommended physical activity than those who don’t have a dog. While social distancing is keeping people in their homes all day, pets give a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get active. Studies also show that physical activity has many benefits for mental health.

5. Pets provide a sense of togetherness. The bond with a pet helps the owner to not feel alone. When owners see, touch, hear or talk to their companion animals, it brings a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. At the same time, stress hormones are suppressed.

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