Health Advice



Your pet can help protect your brain power

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

At 99, Betty White was still as sharp-witted as ever. Perhaps that was because she had so many pets in her lifetime -- estimated at 24 as an adult, including her last dog, Pontiac, a rescue pup.

A new study slated to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, reveals that people who have a pet, especially for five years or longer, experience measurably less cognitive decline than those with no pets.

The researchers looked at cognitive data from 1,369 older adults and found that pet owners did better on tests of subtraction, numeric counting and word recall.

Previous studies have suggested that the human-animal bond decreases stress and blood pressure -- both of which can have negative effects on cognition. Other possible brain-boosting benefits of pets may come from increased exercise and social interaction associated with owning a dog, and a pet's ability to ease its owner's feelings of loneliness and depression.

If you're thinking about getting a pet, ask your local animal shelter about adopting -- not just a cat or dog, but consider an "alternative pet" such as a rabbit or a parrot. Not in the market for a furry companion? There are 33 other choices you can make that have been shown to increase long-term cognitive performance. They range from routine physical activity and attaining normal blood pressure to fasting correctly, enjoying speed-of-processing games, and taking certain supplements such as phosphocreatine. All 33 are discussed in my upcoming book "The Great Age Reboot" (check out



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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