Stressed? Get An Aquarium!

Great news for aquarium lovers: it’s not just a hobby or for aesthetics, it’s actually good for your health too! A new study offers evidence that watching fish in an aquarium reduces heart rate and blood pressure, leaving the observer more relaxed and with less stress. If you have ever sat and watched fish swimming gracefully through the features of their aquarium, or watched the corals wave gently with the water’s movement, then you’ve probably already felt the hypnotic and calming affects yourself.

British scientists at Plymouth University and the University of Exeter measured subjects’ physical and mental reactions before and after observing fish at the National Marine Aquarium. The results show a significant reduction in heart rate and blood pressure after watching the aquarium compared to their measurements immediately before. The mental state of subjects was even more improved if they observed aquariums that had a high number of fish.

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Time in Nature Can Reflect on Your Mental State

There’s a fair amount of science that shows how being out in nature can improve one’s health by reducing physical signs of stress. Nature soothes such that patterns in the brain change, namely a reduction of activity in areas of the brain that cause one to fret or worry. However, not much research has focused on the effects of observing nature in an artificial setting, such as an aquarium, making this new study one of the first of its kind.

It seems, though, that we haven’t needed any science to be convinced; aquariums have long been a feature in stressful areas such as waiting rooms at a doctor or dentist’s office in an effort to calm patients. With new quantitative data in hand, perhaps public aquariums can use this information as another draw to visitors in addition to educational and recreational reasons.

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Water Does a Body (and Mind) Good

In his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do”, renowned marine biologist and author Wallace J. Nichols quotes the following:

“I wondered whether water is a mirror for our darker emotions as much as it is an engine for our happiness. Water quiets all the noise, all the distractions, and connects you to your own thoughts.”

So if you are like most, and could use less stress in your life, consider getting an aquarium! Check out all the great resources here on ReefNation.com for everything you need to get started.

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Sources

Adebayo, Morenike. 4 August 2015. “Watching Fish is Good For Your Health.” IFLScience.com. Web. http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/watching-fish-good-your-health

Reynolds, Gretchen. 22 July 2015. “How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain.” The New York Times. Web. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain/?_r=0