Owning a pet for a long time keeps you more astute and happy, a study has found. People who own pets seem to have a sharper mind compared to non-pet owners, according to the American Academy of Neurology.
The study, using data from more than 1,300 adults who participated in the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study, 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 have to be the fluffy variety. Although dogs and cats were the more prevalent pets in the study, people who owned birds, fish and reptiles saw the same benefits.
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 the physiological benefits of pet ownership, such as reduced blood pressure and lower cortisol levels, could positively 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!