In case you were looking for any further excuses to indulge this party season, the research is in: patting hairy men is good for you.

A Californian-based study has shown that the act of stroking a hairy man can have the same -“ if not greater -“ health benefits as those associated with pet ownership.

The calming effect of stroking an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, giving pet owners a cardiovascular boost to ward off heart disease.

Now it has been shown there are even more benefits to be gained through stroking a hairy man.

Free of the stresses involved with pet ownership -“ the need to feed, groom and constantly entertain pets, not to mention the stresses of veterinary bills -“ bear patting is an even greater way to boost your heart’s strength.

Though some of the cardiovascular benefits of walking a dog may be missed out on, there are more amusing aerobic substitutes to be found, if the initial bear patting goes well.

Patting is almost like a handshake among gays, Harbour City Bears president Philip Penwright said.

It’s like a -˜how are you going, mate?’ I for one see a pat as a sign of affection and, in general, doesn’t everyone like affection?

It’s also a sign of manners. A pat on the shoulder when you are trying to navigate a crowded bar is a non-threatening way of getting to your destination. It generates more smiles than just barging through.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Australia. One Australian dies every 10 minutes as a result of CVD, and it is estimated to be the cause of 36 percent of all deaths each year. So this Mardi Gras season, pat a bear -“ if not to add to the friendly and communal atmosphere, then for the sake of your own health.

For more about the Harbour City Bears visit www.hcbears.com.

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