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Fish Improve Mental Health, Reduce Anxiety, Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Since we were children, most of us have probably experienced a visit to a dentist or other similar setting whereby the managers have installed fish tanks in their waiting rooms in the hope of relaxing those who may be stressed before they undergo a procedure or investigation.

Well, it turns out they do this because it is a great method in reducing anxiety. A study took place that proves observing an aquarium and staring at swimming fish really does lower blood pressure, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, increase feelings of relaxation and decrease the human heart rate/ muscle tension.

Experts from the National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth University and the University of Exeter assessed the public's physical and mental responses to aquariums containing varying levels of aquatic life.

They found that staring at an aquarium for as little as just five minutes in a day has an almost hypnotic effect thus calming the viewer down. This incredible effect is due to our genetic predisposition to regard certain natural environments as being non-threatening and even essential to our survival.

“The importance of viewing nature, especially animals, appears to be deep-seated into the human psyche,” says Alan Beck, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University.

The human understanding and appreciation for the natural world coupled with our preference for being connected with natural environments could be the product of biological evolution.

He refers to the attraction as the 'biophilia hypothesis' which is a term referred to by American biologist E.O. Wilson, which describes our innate inclination towards focusing on life and lifelike processes.

“Viewing nature in the form of aquarium fish is nature on demand,” Beck adds, "The benefits, which are still being explored, appear to be numerous”.

Aquarium Therapy is actually part of a much larger field called animal-assisted therapy (AAT). AAT includes the use of certified therapy animals as a part of a therapeutic plan.

The results of the study were truly incredible- watching an aquarium display for ten minutes was linked to noticeable long-term reductions in blood pressure and heart rate. The study assessed the physical and mental responses of 112 random participants to a tank containing varying amount of fish.

The findings showed that people relaxed even when the aquarium was empty, with heart rates reducing by as much as 3 percent. The findings also showed that when fish were added, the benefits increased with heart rate and blood pressure lowering up to a staggering 7 percent. Higher numbers of fish also suggested that Aquarium Therapy also helped to improve the viewer’s attention span and improve their moods. People were happier.

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