According to a new study conducted by the researchers at University of Colorado Boulder, people who grow up in the city without a pet are prone to obtaining mental illness and stress later on in their lives.
The study also suggested that people who live in a country-like setting with pets and that are exposed to germs will be more resilient to stress and other diseases, due to their immune system becoming strengthened from this exposure.
Country Living vs City Living
The participants of the study were 40 healthy men from Germany, where 20 of them lived on a farm and the other half lived in the city. The group that lived in the city were raised without pets while the group that lived on a farm were surrounded by various animals. The test, which tested a person's stress levels, included each of the men giving a speech in front of people and solving math equations under a timed condition.
To better grasp their immune responses, blood and saliva samples were drawn from each participant five minutes before the test, as well as five, 15, 60, 90, and 120 minutes after the test. The researchers claimed that the results showed for the men who lived in the city, the levels of PBMCs (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) was higher than the ones who lived in the country.
The PBMCs are a key factor in the immune system which is raised when under stress. Even after the exercise was concluded, the city-dwellers levels of PBMCs were still extremely high much to the surprise of the researchers. The participants who were from the city were also unaware of the amount of stress they were under.
Is The Country Life Better?
Coauthor of the research Professor Christopher Lowry, stressed that there is more research to be done before these new findings can be proven valid. Lowry did state that people being exposed to the outdoors is vital for mental health.
"It has already been very well documented that exposure to pets and rural environments during development is beneficial in terms of reducing risk of asthma and allergies later in life," Lowry stated.
Lead author Professor Stefan Reber stated that the next study will be conducted on women and other parts of the world to see how if other places have higher or lower risks of mental health. He continued that he also wants to see in what stages in a person's life is it beneficial for them to be exposed to animals and nature.