Pet food manufacturer Mars Petcare has launched an initiative to demonstrate that living with a pet has health benefits.

The Power of Pets program will bring pet-friendly health, education, and physical activities to YMCAs across the United States.

Debra Fair, vice president of corporate affairs for Mars Petcare US, said the company’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition has done a great deal of research on the physical, psychological and social benefits of pets. The Power of Pets program is the perfect way for us to share this research and really bring these benefits to life, she said.

Ted Cornelius, executive director of the YMCA of Middle Tennessees State Alliance/Pioneering Healthier Communities program, said the nonprofit organization’s philosophy is that healthy lifestyles are about nurturing the spirit, mind and body.

And pets certainly play a role in that, Cornelius said. We encourage families to play together every day, and incorporating the family pet is a great way to make everyone more active.

Research has revealed that cat ownership has numerous health benefits. But even though dogs are more popular exercise companions, even cats can get their people off the couch. Cats have caused this reporter to burn more than a few calories in her lifetime, as evidenced by this video:

It seems that pets have the power to motivate their owners to be more active, according to a recent survey conducted by Mars Petcare. The survey found that more than half of the 1,000 U.S. pet owners polled would prefer to exercise with their pet instead of exercising alone. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said making sure their pets is more active has made them more active as well.

The program’s initial roll-out is slated for YMCA locations in Chicago; Nashville, Tenn.; New York City, Portland, Ore.; and Washington, D.C.

[Source: CatChannel.com]