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Good News! Procrastinating With Cute Animal Videos Has Health Benefits

Ahead of World Animal day on the 4th of October 2020, new university research has suggested that simply watching videos of cute animals can be good for your health.The study involved 15 students from the University of Leeds who were preparing to sit an exam later that day, as well as four academic support staff who had declared they were feeling stressed at work. The participants were asked to view images and watch videos of cute animals for a total of 30 minutes.

Heart Rate Image

The research recorded incredibly positive results across the board:

  • The average of group blood pressure fell from a pre-high state of hypertension to a healthier reading in line with ‘normal’ levels.
  • The anxiety levels within the group reduced by an average of 35%, with some individuals experiencing a fall of almost 50%.
  • The heart rates of some participants reduced by as much as 24% from 90bpm to 68bpm

The partnership between the University of Leeds and Tourism Western Australia came about from the ‘World’s happiest animal’, the quokka, being a native species of Western Australia.

Quokka Image 2
The Quokka of Western Australia

Researchers were keen to explore whether these cute animals and others could have beneficial effects for our mental and physical health. 

With the study proving highly effective at reducing stress in anxious participants, the University of Leeds will be offering students the opportunity to watch the relaxing animal content ahead of future exams, after collecting University departmental award wins for student care.

Elen Thomas, UK Market Manager for Tourism Western Australia, said: 

“The study results are a fantastic reminder that we benefit massively from exploring and enjoying the natural world. The huge improvement seen in the mood and health of the participants is remarkable and a clear sign that wildlife experiences are important for our wellbeing. Western Australia offers visitors lots of incredible wildlife encounters from swimming with whale sharks at World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef to sunbathing with Kangaroos on Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay – there is an endless list of meaningful experiences with wildlife in their natural habitats. We hope to welcome UK visitors to Western Australia soon, in the meantime we hope Quokka TV provides a welcome mood boost.”

Quokka image 1
A Smiling Quokka

Dr Andrea Utley, a researcher involved in the study, said:

“It was clear that students were anxious ahead of their exams, with heart rates and blood pressure for most participants mildly elevated before our session took place. Indeed, in some individuals, heart rate and blood pressure were even higher, indicating a higher level of stress for those participants. Throughout the course of the session, heart rates and blood pressure fell across all individuals to a level that would be considered healthy and indicative of limited stress or anxiety.”

Anxiety levels were also found to drop during the session, with one participant becoming so relaxed they almost fell asleep. Another also commented on how the ‘smiling’ quokkas helped him feel relaxed. 

If you would like to relax by watching the same video the participants saw, then please click here.

Full results from the study available here.

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.