Culture 2 min read

New Study Says Petting Dogs And Cats Can Relieve Stress

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

College can be stressful.

Aside from the tons of classes, papers, and exams, students also have to worry about work and bills. Of course, there’s also the many pressures that come with modern life too.

As a result, many universities have introduced a “Pet Your Stress Away” program. As the name implies, it involves students coming it to interact with cats or dogs to relieve stress.

But, how effective is this strain relief technique?

According to the researchers at Washington State University, it’s incredibly beneficial. Alongside improving the students’ mood, the program also offers some stress-relieving physiological benefits.

In a statement, associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development, Patricia Pendry said:

“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact. Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”

Here’s a break down of the study.

How Interaction With Cats or Dogs Can Relieve Stress

For the study, the researchers divided 249 college students into four random groups. The participants had to submit salivary cortisol (stress hormone) samples beforehand

The first group got to interact with cats and dogs for ten minutes. They could play, touch, and hang out with the pets as they wanted.

But, the scientist wanted to compare the student’s diverse reactions to different exposures to animals.

So, rather than allow the second group to pet the animals, they waited in line and watched the first group’s interaction. The third group also watched a slideshow of the same animals.

The fourth group, on the other hand, was placed on a waitlist. They had to wait for 10 minutes without access to phones, books, or any other stimuli.

Unlike the other two groups, the group that interacted with the pets directly has significantly less cortisol in their saliva after the interaction.

Pendry noted:

“What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress less subjectively. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.”

Now, the researchers are trying to check if the study will hold up to greater scrutiny. So, they’re analyzing the impact of a four-week-long animal-assisted stress prevention program.

The preliminary results already look good. Pendry and her team hope to publish the final result soon.

Read More: Don’t Panic, but Researchers Have Discovered That Stress is Contagious

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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