How to be a Healthy Party Animal

People are all the time giving us health advice. Never, though, have I heard anyone say, “Add birdseed to your diet.”  Yet, have you ever seen evidence of a constipated bird? No such thing.

The AARP Bulletin for Jan-Feb. 2019 has a list of “Ways to Add Healthy Years to Your Life,” ninety-nine of them (ways, not years.) Adding birdseed to your diet did not make the list, even though Ways #46 through #61 were all food suggestions. “Eat Fiber, Cheat Death…Eat Fruit and Vegetables, Cheat Death…Eat Nuts and Seeds (not birdseed, though)…” Also left out was kale. I understand that kale is now left off the menu at all prisons and jails because prisoners have learned how to hold a leaf in both hands, use it as a saw, and cut through bars. “Eat Kale, Cheat Prison.”

So, here’s the first part of this week’s health insight. Way #62 on the AARP list was “Throw a Party!” A party can add days or weeks or even a month to one’s lifetime. “Cherish the opportunity to hang out with your tribe. A review published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (a really fun bunch of party animals) found that strong social relationships had positive physiological effects, such as lower inflammation, while isolation had an even harsher negative effect on participants’ blood pressure and diabetes.”

I feel less inflamed just thinking about a party, but here’s the remainder of the insight. Not everyone is outgoing. Not everyone has lots of friends. How can you find more opportunities to throw parties? How can you become a healthy party animal if you are an introvert? The answer: Dogs!

What do we know about dogs? One human year is the equivalent of seven dog years. If you have a dog, you have the opportunity/obligation to throw a birthday party for it seven times a year! If you have two dogs, fourteen times per year! That’s a lot of positive physiological effect, especially if other dog owners return the invitation. If your neighborhood has twelve dogs, that’s 84 parties a year. And parties produce “positive physiological effects, such as lower inflammation, while isolation has an even harsher negative effect on participants’ blood pressure and diabetes.”

And you thought that the greeting card at Walgreen’s with the Chihuahua on front wearing a party hat was just silliness! No. Spread the word that your dog is having a birthday. Invite your neighbors and their dogs over for margaritas and milkbone. Someone will say, “Fido’s already 100 years old?  It seems that less than a couple of months ago he was just 99.” And you can respond, “Yes, he was! And next week your dog is 67! Party on!”


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