The Health Benefits of Watching Fish

IFLS reports on the first known study to research the psychological effect of observing marine life. It might seem like an oddly specific thing to look into, but given the long history of aquarium-keeping across civilizations, it makes sense to consider what value humans derive from the practice

Sure enough, British researchers from Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, in collboration with the National Marine Aquarium, found measurable benefits in physical and mental well being among test subjects following a bit of aquarium-gazing. 

After watching marine life at the National Marine Aquarium, participants had a reduction in both heart rate and blood pressure. It seems the more, the merrier, as researchers also reported that people were more captivated and had a more positive mood if there were high numbers of fish in the tank.

Studies have shown that people are soothed by spending time in more natural environments but there hasn’t been much definitive research into the effects of marine environments on people’s mood and wellbeing.

“Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms,” said PhD student and the study’s research lead Deborah Cracknell in a press release. “This study has, for the first time, provided robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.”

Granted, since this is possibly the first study of its kind, further research would be needed to validate its findings. But as the owner of several fish tanks over the years, I can vouch for the sense of serenity they bring. Both setting up and tending to an ecosystem (of sorts) has a very therapeutic effect, whether it is a garden, vivarium, fish tank, or even yard.

Indeed, taking a step back from life to watch or experience nature, in its varying forms, is good for overall wellness; a growing body of research has made this clear with respect to nature walks or even casual strolls through a park.

What are your thoughts?

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