Stroking a cat or dog can reduce your stress levels, study finds

It takes just ten minutes to significantly reduce stress levels. [Photo: Getty]
It takes just ten minutes to significantly reduce stress levels. [Photo: Getty]

Just incase you needed any convincing, there’s now proof that stroking your furry friends can reduce stress levels.

Scientists looked at the behaviours of 249 students to see what happened when they were stroking cats and dogs.

Er, why weren’t we asked to be part of this study?

We all knew that stroking cats and dogs boosted our mood. How could it not? Now, there’s concrete evidence to support our theories.

READ MORE: Steer clear of these flowers if you have a cat

The team from Washington State University found that it only took ten minutes of interaction to significantly reduce the stress hormone, cortisol.

This study was the first of its kind to measure the impact cats and dogs have on us in a real-life, everyday setting, rather than in a laboratory.

The 249 (very lucky) students were split into four groups.

The first group were able to play with, pet and chill out with dogs and cats for ten minutes.

READ MORE: Twitter users say having a dog helps with depression

The second group observed the people petting the animals, the third group watched a slideshow of the animals and the fourth group were “waitlisted”.

The “waitlisted” group weren’t allowed to see the animals or use their phones until their turn.

Salivary cortisol levels were taken from every participant to monitor how each of them reacted within their groups.

The students who had direct interaction with the animals showed significantly lowered rates of cortisol.

READ MORE: This is why we love dogs so much

The study did take into consideration that some students would have had lower or higher rates to begin with.

That’s why they started taking saliva samples from each participant as soon as they woke up that morning.

Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development said: “College is stressful. Students have classes, papers, and exams, but they also often have work, bills to pay, and so many other pressures common in modern life.”

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

We’ll clear our diaries for the next study!

Watch the latest videos from Yahoo Style UK: