Watching cute animals is good for your health, a new study has revealed.
Participants watched videos of Western Australia’s quokkas – known as the ‘happiest animal in the world’ – for 30 minutes.
Findings showed that stress levels dropped by almost 50 per cent in individual cases and blood pressure dropped from high to healthy readings.
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Study participants watched videos of Western Australia’s quokkas – known as the ‘happiest animal in the world’ – for 30 minutes
The study, led by the University of Leeds in conjunction with Tourism Western Australia, involved 19 individuals, including 15 students who were due to take an exam 90 minutes after the session, and four academic support staff who had declared they were feeling stressed at work.
Heart rate and blood pressure were monitored to consider the physiological impact of seeing the content, while a ‘state-trait anxiety inventory’ was used for psychological analysis.
It was revealed that the average group blood pressure fell from 136/88 to 115/71 during the session, while one participant’s heart rate fell from 90bpm to 68 bpm – a 24.4 per cent drop in just 30 minutes.
Anxiety levels within the group, meanwhile, reduced by an average of 35 per cent, with some individuals experiencing a fall of almost 50 per cent.
Following the results of the study, Singapore Airlines and Tourism Western Australia are trialling ‘ Quokka TV’ online, offering the general public the option of improving their mood by watching quokka content as curated for the study
One participant became so relaxed they almost fell asleep and another also commented on how the ‘smiling’ quokkas, a kangaroo relative, helped him feel relaxed.
Commenting on the findings, 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.’
It was established that content showing human interaction with animals was the most stress-reducing aspect of the study, suggesting that seeing cute and cuddly creatures like quokkas in the wild could offer even greater benefits.
Searches for animal videos on YouTube leapt during the week commencing March 22, just as lockdown measures in the UK began and have stayed at a higher level ever since, according to Google Trends, suggesting that we are naturally inclined to seek out cute animal videos during times of uncertainty and upheaval.
It was revealed that the average group blood pressure decreased from 136/88 to 115/71 during the session, while one participant’s heart rate fell from 90bpm to 68 bpm – a 24.4 per cent drop in just 30 minutes
Following the results of the study, Singapore Airlines and Tourism Western Australia are trialling ‘Quokka TV‘ online, offering the general public the option of improving their mood by watching quokka content as curated for the study.
The University of Leeds will also be offering students the opportunity to watch the cute animal content in a controlled environment before exams.
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.’