In the US, over 60% of universities run pet therapy programmes in recognition of the highly positive effects that interacting with dogs can have on stress, loneliness and general well-being. Studying at med school can be particularly demanding for students, but if you have the facilities, keeping a dog with you on campus can be a very rewarding experience. Dogs can lift your mood after a long, stressful day, and also encourage you to get out and about more to unwind. Exercise is a great antidote to stress, and working out with your dog will keep you both fit, healthy and happy throughout your studies and beyond.

Share A Break From Studying

Keeping a dog can be very fulfilling, and the physical and psychological benefits of interacting with a dog are well known. Depending on the size and breed, dogs will require different levels of exercise, but, at the very least, your dog will need a daily walk. With long days and tight schedules, it’s good to have the flexibility of being ready to quickly take advantage of any time off, however limited. Wearing versatile jogger scrubs means not only are you comfortable working long hours in the library or clinic, but you are also dressed to take your dog out for a walk or run at any time, and enjoy the positive effect that exercise can have on your physical well-being and self-esteem. Even though you feel inspired by your chosen field of medicine, it’s still important to take some time out. However busy you are, exercising with your dog gives you the perfect opportunity to take a break from being a medical professional.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

As part of their studies, medical students will become familiar with the concept of stress and its potentially negative effect on health. However, the majority of them will also experience it first hand, with over 10% of students reporting severe stress levels. Simply stroking and interacting with your dog can lower levels of cortisol in the body, the hormone responsible for stress, helping to control high blood pressure and improve your immune system. Although medical students have an enhanced knowledge of preventing illness and promoting exercise, this is not always translated into maintaining their own health. Stress and lack of time may seem like insurmountable barriers to exercise; however, medical college can present a good opportunity to develop good health habits that will persist in later life. The added responsibility of looking after a dog will ensure you make the time to exercise when you are taking them out. When interacting with your dog takes the form of exercise such as a brisk walk or a long run, levels of stress hormones are further reduced, and more endorphins (chemicals that elevate mood) are produced.

The life of a med student can be hectic and stressful, but interacting and exercising with your dog can help you to find a better balance of work and play. Finding the time to share activities and keep fit together is also great for your health and well-being.