When looking for advice about living a longer life, you see your typical tips like eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and regularly exercising. But did you know that getting a dog can extend the longevity of your life? It may seem a little silly at first, but research proves otherwise.

A number of past studies have indicated that owning a pet has more benefits that just companionship. Pets have proved to help improve our mental health by reducing stress and increasing our self-esteem. With more research, a new benefit of pet ownership has come to light- a longer life.

In a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers examined the relationship between dog ownership and mortality using multiple decades of evidence.

In this review, researchers looked at 10 studies of dog ownership that provided data on over 3 million participants. From this analysis, it was concluded that dog ownership reduced risks by 24% compared to non-ownership. In addition, dog owners experienced a 65% reduced risk after experiencing a heart attack and a 31% reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular issues.

Dog ownership is also associated with increased physical exercise, better cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. The improvement of these three areas most likely contributed to a longer life span. Researchers noted the reason for these improvements most likely resulted in regular dog walks as well as a decrease in loneliness and depression.

In the same journal, another study showed a correlation between dog ownership and the benefits to heart attack and stroke survivors who live by themselves. The research was conducted at Uppsala University, where researchers looked at Swedish residents between the ages of 40 to 85 who experienced a heart attack or stroke between 2001 to 2012. It was found that those who owned a dog were 33% less likely to die after being released from the hospital after experiencing a heart attack. Stroke victims’ risk of death was 27% lower compared to non-dog owners.

All authors from each study noted that the results are not completely objective. More research needs to be conducted to see if the relationship between dogs and owners is a casual relationship rather than a group of coincidences.

While there may be some correlation, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t just get a dog to live longer, you should get a dog because you want one and you are going to take care of it.