These days, there are so many ways to connect online and in person with others, that it’s almost impossible to actually unplug from activity and interactions with people. However, despite this reality, many people still feel lonely and depressed – feelings that lead to misery and weight gain, and consequently, their associated long term health concerns. My suggestion? How about adopting a pet!

Animals have been shown to be great for keeping people company and lifting the spirits of elderly as well as those who are ill. There are medical studies that now show that owning a dog has significant health benefits.

I’m serious… think about it. What a nice thing it is to have a companion at home with you, who loves you more than anyone else. A pet who loves to watch movies with you, who greets you when you get home, and who gives you a purpose as you feed and take care of him like you would a younger family member. That will cut through the loneliness… and not to mention, your mood will be lifted by the added activity. If you get a dog, you will have an instant exercise friend, always ready to run and play and love you.

Recently, the New York Times published an article in their health section that shows astonishing research on the activity levels of dog owners, of all ages! “Several studies now show that dogs can be powerful motivators to get people moving,” writes Tara Parker-Pope. “Not only are dog owners more likely to take regular walks, but new research shows that dog walkers are more active over all than people who don’t have dogs… Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.”

Regular exercise and outdoor playtime (even if it’s with a puppy) will absolutely turn your frown upside down over a short time. What could be better than an unrelenting display of the unconditional love and affection that pets have! Who can resist the sweetness of a dog licking, chasing and following you around? Some folks, on the other hand, get significant satisfaction from cuddling up on the sofa with their cat. Don Miguel Ruiz’s eloquently captured the beauty of pet-love in “Mastery of Love” by saying, even when you are pissed and angry and yell at your pet, the pet comes back loving you the same way she always has. No baggage building up there!

Fido can’t resist you – even when you have moods. Every time you come home, Fido is happy to see you. No complaining. No asking for things. No wanting anything except what is actually good for you as the owner: a walk or run.

So, if you’re feeling blue lately, I say suit up in your walking clothes, find your nearest animal shelter and just GO for it! Why not adopt a pet! Your new furry friend will thank you for opening your home. Now, let the benefits to your body, mind and spirit begin!