Fish tanks are common fixtures at the dentist or doctor's clinic and apparently they aren't there just as a decorative addition to the room. Looking at fish tanks can boost one's physical and mental well-being, a new study has revealed.
Researchers from the National Marine Aquarium, the University of Exeter and Plymouth University conducted the study, the first of its kind, to see the physical and mental responses of people watching different fish swimming inside aquariums and found marked improvements in blood pressure levels and heart rates of test subjects.
To further test their assumptions, the researchers refurbished one of the massive fish tanks at the National Marine Aquarium and then slowly introduced new fish species inside it. While doing so, they assessed the blood pressure, mood and heart rate of the participants.
They found out that fish tanks with the most number of fish held the people's attention more and sparked better moods among its participants. They noted that a person's heart rate lowers 7 percent when looking at the fish. However, even viewing empty tanks with just seaweeds inside also triggered at least a 3 percent reduction in heart rate, according to the Telegraph.
"Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors' surgeries and dental waiting rooms," Deborah Cracknell, the lead researcher, 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 well-being."
Previous studies have already shown how much nature can sooth a person's health, but researches done about marine life in this regard have been far and few. The experts think that their findings will benefit people who have fewer resources and access to enjoy nature and the outdoors, thus, they can consider fish tanks as alternatives.
"Our findings have shown improvements for health and well-being in highly managed settings, providing an exciting possibility for people who aren't able to access outdoor natural environments," said Matthew White from the University of Exeter, via Medical Daily. "If we can identify the mechanisms that underpin the benefits we're seeing, we can effectively bring some of the 'outside inside' and improve the well-being of people without ready access to nature."
"In times of higher work stress and crowded urban living, perhaps aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation," said another study author, Sabine Pahl, a psychologist at Plymouth University.
The research was published in the journal Environment and Behavior.