By Kyle Young:
Calm And Soothing: Watching Fish is Beneficial To Health, Research Finds
When you think of healthy activities, you probably picture morning jogs, yoga, maybe choking down a protein shake.
But research offers a surprising addition – staring at fish!
A study conducted in Plymouth, UK at the National Marine Aquarium found that after watching fish “people felt more positive” and “became more relaxed.” The study even noted reductions in blood pressure and heart rate.
This is not an entirely new concept. Past research has led many doctors’ offices and dental practices to include small aquariums in their waiting rooms with the intention of decreasing stress. But according to Deborah Cracknell, the Lead Researcher, “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.” It also demonstrated that adding more fish to an exhibit can enhance the beneficial effects for viewers.
I should add here that having too many fish in a relatively small aquarium is not good for the well-being of the fish, disturbing them, and probably ultimately also humans watching them.
Also, aquarium fish should be species and individuals getting along well together. I remember an aquarium at an elderly people’s home, where fish quarreled, aggressively pursuing each other. If at an elderly people’s home or similar building there is not a person able to take care well of an aquarium and its inhabitants, then an aquarium there might not be such a good idea.
More Information About the Research Study and Its Findings
Scientists from Plymouth University and the University of Exeter Medical School collaborated to conduct this study at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, UK. The University of Exeter reports, “The researchers benefited from a unique opportunity in order to conduct their study when the National Marine Aquarium refurbished one of its main exhibits – in a large 550,000 litre tank – and began a phased introduction of different fish species.”
In their report, the researchers explain how they took advantage of the situation by venturing to measure “behavioral, physiological, and psychological reactions to increases in levels of marine biota.” To do this, they divided the test subjects into three groups. The first group “viewed the exhibit when it contained only seawater and artificial decoration.” The second group viewed the tank when it was partially stocked, and the third viewed the fully stocked tank. The goal was to determine whether participants viewing a fully stocked tank would experience greater results than those viewing a partially stocked tank.
As it turned out, the researchers were on to something. The study found that “increased biota levels were associated with longer spontaneous viewing of the exhibit, greater reductions in heart rate, greater increases in self-reported mood, and higher interest.”
The scientists suggested these findings could potentially help companies design better exhibits to “maximize the restorative potential of aquaria in health care environments and other stressful settings such as the workplace.”