So you want to be heart-healthy, but running marathons or limiting your diet to unadorned fish, fruits and veggies isn’t your style. Good news: Your Plan B could be as close as the animal shelter. If you hear barking or little meows, you're going the right direction.
Baylor College of Medicine research suggests that dog and cat owners reap a bevy of cardiovascular benefits. Those pet perks include increased physical activity (especially walking a dog), lower blood pressure and greater ability to shrug off stress (research shows that stroking a pet, as well as companionship, is calming), and improved survival after “acute coronary syndrome” (various life-threatening maladies such as heart attacks). With pet ownership comes decreased cardiovascular risk.
Don't forget, you still have to take care of your heart; owning a pet doesn't give you permission to rent space on the couch or convert your diet to potato chips. So, if you can scratch up a kibble allowance, spare some recreational time, and have space—in your heart and home—for a pet, one may be just the ticket for your ticker.