How a pet could help your heart health

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NEW YORK (CBS) If you own a pet, you know it's a big part of your family. Now, new research shows those four-legged friends may actually be good for your heart.

Michael Labelle takes Rocky and Livia to the park often so they can get exercise, but he says he's grateful he gets the physical activity, too.

"I don't think I would be nearly as active without dogs," he said.

Now, a new study shows owning a pet may help keep your heart healthy. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at more than 1,700 people for their study and compared those who own pets to those who did not.

"We found that owning a dog or owning other pets was linked to better cardiovascular health which were determined by physical activity, better glucose levels and an ideal diet," said Dr. Jose Medina-Inojosa from the Mayo Clinic.

The greatest health boost was for dog owners. Researchers believe that's because of the physical activity they get walking or working out with their dogs. Other studies suggest owning a dog can have health benefits. Dogs can relieve stress and help with relaxation. They can also help some people to be more social and feel less lonely.

"Having a pet, it seems like it's associated with a better mood, less likely of a person having depressive symptoms and an overall sense of wellbeing and purpose. It's been shown to be tied up to better cardiovascular health," Medina-Inojosa said.

Joyce Chau just adopted Coco about a month ago and says she's already noticed she is moving around more.

"I got to walk more because I got to walk her," she said.

Chau says owning a dog is a lot of responsibility but it's worth all the benefits.

Researchers remind everyone that decreasing your time sitting, eating a good diet with limiting processed foods and added sugars and not smoking are all ways to maintain good heart health.