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Editorial: Tapping your inner doggie for a healthier life

Jimmy Quattrocki enjoying good weather with his dog Smokey Labrador Ridgeback mut Wicker Park Chicago Friday April 26 2013. |

Jimmy Quattrocki enjoying the good weather with his dog Smokey, a Labrador Ridgeback mut Wicker Park, Chicago, on Friday, April 26, 2013. | Ting Shen~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 13, 2013 6:45PM

We can learn a lot from our pets.

How to play without holding back, how to thoroughly enjoy a good meal, how to love unconditionally.

Dogs and cats live blissfully in the moment while we humans stress about the evils in the world around us, about global warming, about saving for retirement, the rent or the next meal.

Yes, we could we learn a lot from our pets — and keeping them around can also help keep us alive.

Owning a dog, it turns out, can protect you from heart disease.

A scientific statement released by the American Heart Association last week said that owning a dog was “probably associated” with a lower risk of heart disease and increased survival among patients.

The qualifier is required because most of the studies reviewed by the AHA found only a correlation between improved health and pet ownership, not a straight cause and effect.

But anyone who owns an animal, particularly a dog, knows these studies ring true.

Dogs force you to get outside and walk, and a purring cat or loving dog in your lap lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.

Pet owners, especially those with dogs, tended to be healthier than non-pet owners, and people who had pets were more likely to live after a heart attack, researchers found.

The pages of this newspaper are filled with things to worry about. We’d be remiss if we urged you to ignore them.

But there’s a time for stress and a time to live in the moment, as our pets do.

The lesson here?

Get a pet, if you are in position to take good care of it, and try every day to tap your inner doggie.

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