LQM: Aquariums for better mental health

by Vasil Tanenski

It is well known that contact with nature has a beneficial effect on human mental health. A number of studies show that walking in the woods, mountains, the beach, as well as communication with animals, have a good effect on the human psyche. But which animals do we think of first? Dogs, cats, guinea pigs? And why not ... fish?

A study by the National Marine Aquarium, the University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter, published in the journal Environment & Behaviour, shows that people who observe fish tanks have improved their mental health. The team found that prolonged viewing lowered blood pressure and heart rate, and the more fish there were, the better the mood of the people watching them. 

Deborah Cracknell, a PhD student at the University of Plymouth and Lead Researcher at the National Marine Aquarium, said that “Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms. 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.” 

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth thinks that in stressful times like these, maybe “aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation.”


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