The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Animals proven to benefit mental and physical health

Junior Sonya Hu and her beloved cat, Momo, take a break from work by cuddling together on her bed. Photo by Kristine Cho

Sophomore Kynsee Fennel has a special connection with her horse. After a hard stressful day at school, all of her worries disappear when she spends time with her beloved pet. As she brushes her horse, her worries fall on the ground and are ignored just like the lost horse hair.  “It’s like driving, you always have to focus on the road ahead of you,” Fennel said. “You can’t have your mind other places or something bad can happen, and after I see my horse, my mind is in a better calmer state and then I can figure out my problems with a different mindset.”
Owning a pet has been shown to improve emotional and physical health as well as reducing the risk of heart attacks and improving social skills. The National Center for Health Research conducted a study in 2002 that showed that pet owners had a lower heart rate than non pet owners. Also, people with pets were shown to have less spikes in their heart rate and lower blood pressure. All of these things are good because they decrease the risk of major heart problems like strokes and heart disease.
“Animals can definitely help with depression and anxiety,” RBHS outreach counselor Lesley Thalhuber said. “There’s just this wonderful connection where you don’t even have to say anything and they understand.”
Websites such as and National Geographic help support Thalhuber in her reasoning. These websites and their articles explain the strong bond between humans and animals despite their differences. According to, pets can help people relax and focus on our attention away from our problems and worries. Animals distract their owners by keeping them busy, which then creates an escape from reality for the owner. During hard times they provide humans with companionship and loyalty, making it easier to deal with stress and anxiety.
Fennel, a competitive horseback rider, thinks horses are a great animal for both mental and physical health.
“Whenever I’m just having a bad day, their calming aurora helps me become in a better mood,” Fennel said. “Horseback riding also helps you be more confident in doing wild things and keeps you in shape.”
Although animals are proven to help people, are different pets more beneficial to their owners health? Currently, there are no studies that show specifically which pet is better, but people have their opinions on the psychology about which pets are the most beneficial.
“There’s obviously recommendations as to what animal or pet is most beneficial, but, there’s all types of animals that can be trained,” Thalhuber said. “Service dogs can help with post-traumatic stress disorder and even miniature horses can help, but I think it all comes down to the type of person you are and what you need.”
Not only does Thalhuber believe in this theory, but, so does Fennel. They both believe the animal that is most beneficial to a person, is dependent on their personality.
“I think that the type of person you are relates to what pet is most helpful to you,” Fennel said. “For example if you’re more of an introvert, then cats might be better to confide in, but if you’re an active extrovert horses or dogs could be more beneficial to you.”
Although many websites, studies and articles such as National Geographic, The National Center for Health Research and, clearly show that animals are beneficial to the mental and physical health of their owners, none have proven or even suggested which pet is the best.
“I would love to have a therapy dog here at school, and I think they have amazing benefits for people,” Thalhuber said. “Their connection to us is wonderful and there are just so many animals that can benefit us in a positive way.”

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  • K

    Kayla WestNov 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Pets are a great healer for anyone, regardless if they are struggling with a mental or physical illness. I personally struggle with mental illness and have tried to get my dad on board about the idea of getting a Goldendoodle and I even showed him this article. Although it did not convince him to let me get a dog, this piece is very well written and I truly enjoy your writing.

  • S

    shelbyOct 13, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    That is an adorable cat, I love it so much