No bones about it: It’s time to fight heart disease with Best Friend Fridays

pug with a leash

The American Heart Association is going to the dogs. And cats. And other critters. For a lot of heart-healthy reasons.

At home, pets can help you move more. At work, they help you stress less. They can even help you be more productive.

So this month, the association is launching Best Friend Fridays, a campaign encouraging employers to designate one (or more) Fridays in June for employees to bring their pets to work. The idea is rooted in science showing that pets may be good for your heart in lots of ways.

Research shows all kinds of great things about pet ownership, and even about having them at the office:

  • Pets at work may help reduce stress, increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction, teamwork and collaboration.
  • Pets provide social support – an important factor in helping people stick with healthy habits.
  • Dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals non-owners. They are 34% more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week.
  • Pet owners even tend to live longer than non-pet owners. 

“Pet companionship is associated with overall better health and well-being,” said association CEO Nancy Brown. “According to our research, pet companionship may lead to a more active lifestyle, lower blood pressure and reduced stress at home, in the workplace and when managing medical challenges. That’s why the American Heart Association is creating Best Friend Fridays. We’re bringing awareness to the positive impact our four-legged friends have on our hearts and our minds.”

The idea will also help provide money for the association’s efforts to save human lives. Here’s how everyone can help:

  • Ask your employer to celebrate Best Friend Fridays this June. You can find helpful advice on how to do that here.
  • If your company does not have pets at work yet, find a park where you can meet up with other pet parents in your company.
  • Post a selfie of you and your companion on the job using the hashtag #BestFriendFridays.
  • Go to BestFriendFridays.heart.org and donate $25, $55 or $505 in their honor.

“Many studies have explored the relationship between pet ownership and cardiovascular disease and reported a number of beneficial effects,” said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, who is professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Cardiac Care Unit at the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center and author of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership.

“The American Heart Association reviewed available data and found that pet ownership may lead to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” he said. “Though additional research is clearly needed on this important topic, pet owners may have another reason to brag about their furry friends – the possibility of our pets contributing to happy minds and healthy hearts.”

Ready to help lick heart disease? Visit BestFriendFridays.heart.org.