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HHS HealthBeat (May 19, 2014)

Horses and stress

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Being around friendly animals seems to improve peoples’ moods. And a study involving kids and horses finds that being around horses seems to lower stress levels.

At Washington State University, researcher Patricia Pendry measured the stress hormone cortisol in fifth-through-eighth graders. Some spent 90 minutes once a week for 12 weeks in horse activities including riding and grooming; others did not but were on a waiting list.

Pendry says the kids around the horses had lower stress hormone levels through the day.

“It helps us experience physiological relaxation. Whether it’s riding, or grooming, or petting, or simply being in their company that matters, we of course don’t know yet.”

The study in the journal Human-Animal Interaction was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: May 19, 2014