Many of us have heard the benefits of animal-human bonding.
The use of pets such as dogs, cats, and birds to improve the quality of life has become a trend in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country.
But have you heard of fish gazing, and how it also has demonstrable medical benefits, including reduced depression and heart rate?
A study, Effects of Watching Aquariums on Elders' Stress 1) involved presentations of “fish videos” and viewing live aquariums to groups of elderly people with a median age of 75 years.
The fish aquarium was a landscaped ten-gallon tank stocked with nine fish, two black mollies, two red wag swordtails, two gold wag moons, two pineapple swordtails, and one catfish.
The fish videotape showed, almost exclusively in close-up shots, a variety of colorful tropical fish swimming in an aquarium. The audio portion of the videotape was enhanced by superimposing the sound of a stream trickling over rocks.
Evaluations from fish-gazing study participants revealed an overall sentiment that watching fish was a beneficial and enjoyable activity. Illustrative of this are such comments as “I was totally relaxed while watching the fish," and “I forgot about my problems while watching the fish." Moreover, at the conclusion of the study, a number of the study participants and their friends continued to observe the live aquarium on a daily basis.
The experience had impact on the participant’s physiological stress, a decrease in pulse rate, an increase in skin temperature, and a decrease in muscle tension.
Leisure and health-care professionals may find that providing opportunities for elderly clientele to view a stocked aquarium may help maintain or promote their psycho-physiological health. The use of a fish videotape instead of a live fish aquarium would make sense when the viewing audience doesn’t have access to or is unable to maintain a live aquarium.
1)By Mary M. DeSchriver1, and Carol Cutler Riddick2
Originally Published in Anthrozoos, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1990, pps. 44-48.
Fish images from searching 'fish gazing' on Google Images.
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