TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Many doctors have long touted the positive impacts nature can have on our physical and mental well-being. Now a new study shows even a virtual stroll through nature can have a positive effect.
The study, conducted in the UK and published in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed watching nature videos can significantly improve the mental health of the viewer, especially among young adults.
Researchers found the images and sounds in videos as short as six minutes improved the viewer’s mood, relaxation levels, and attention spans.
“Nature has a kind of restorative effect for areas of our brain that are important for things social interactions and doing things like being creative,” said University of South Florida Professor Ruthann Atchley. “We believe there’s both a positive impact on the body but also some positive impacts on some very important brain regions,” Atchley said.
Researchers say the stress-reduction results uncovered in the study were long lasting and improved with every viewing. However, they say the nature videos did not seem to have any significant impact on depression.
Atchley says, that while videos can be a good alternative for people who don’t have access to nature, such as hospital patients, she recommends getting outside to get the full benefits.
“Even mild aerobic exercise helps all these same systems, so you get more for time and the payoff is going to be higher if you’re actually out walking in real nature,” Atchley said.