If you're allergic, then obviously having a pet isn't good for your health. But more and more research is showing that for the rest of us, having a pet makes you healthier. And it's not just because you get more exercise walking your dog, although that can't hurt.

Whether you're a dog person or a cat person, here are three ways your pets are keeping you healthy.

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    They reduce stress

    Just one minute of petting can lower your level of the stress hormone cortisol. And one study even showed that when you're doing something stressful, you're better off having your pet by your side than your friends or family members.

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    They lower your blood pressure

    In one study, stockbrokers with high blood pressure saw it go down after they adopted a cat or a dog. And in a study of 240 married couples, the ones with pets consistently had lower blood pressure and lower resting heart rates. Some studies have even shown that spending time with your pet is more effective than medication when it comes to controlling spikes in your blood pressure.

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    You're less likely to have a heart attack

    One study showed that people with cats are much less likely to die of a heart attack. And another study found that people who'd already suffered a heart attack were more likely to be alive one year later if they owned a dog.