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Are There Health Benefits to Watching Animal Videos? What Science Says!

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

Woman on computer doing research

If like many of us, you get urges to watch cute animal videos on YouTube at random intervals throughout the day, there might be more to the story. According to a study by the University of Leeds, watching videos or even just looking at pictures of animals can bring your stress levels down by up to 50%. Moreover, there are several health benefits to owning a pet or even just being around animals.

In this post, we’ll explain what happened during the University of Leeds’ study, what it has taught us about the health benefits of watching animal videos, and explore the health benefits of spending time with animals.

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University of Leeds Animal Video Health Benefits Study Explained

woman holding a phone stroking orange and white cat on her lap
Image by: Helena Lopes, Pexels

In 2020, 19 participants took part in a study conducted by the University of Leeds into whether or not watching cute animal videos can be beneficial health-wise.1 These 19 participants were all experiencing some kind of stress at the time, like exam stress or work-related stress.

The student participants were actually scheduled to sit an exam shortly after the study took place. Some participants were only mildly stressed whereas others were experiencing a more severe level of stress.

The participants watched a 30-minute video that included both video clips and images of animals, and their blood pressure levels and heart rates were measured before and after watching the video. Both heart rates and blood pressure levels were found to have dropped to a healthy level after watching the video. Some participants’ stress levels dropped by almost 50%.

The University of Leeds’ study has shown that watching animal videos can reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and boost your mood. So, next time you’re due to sit an exam, are going through any kind of stress, or just need your day to be brightened up a bit, try popping an animal video on to experience the effects for yourself.

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Health Benefits of Being Around Animals

If simply watching animal videos is good for your health, imagine the benefits of actually owning a pet! There are innumerable benefits of owning a pet or even simply spending time with animals, which is why therapy animals are such a great idea. Here are some ways spending time with animals can benefit both your mental and physical health:

More Exercise

Those with dogs in particular have to spend more time outside, which means more walking and therefore more exercise. Some high-energy dog breeds, like Australian Shepherds, require around 2 hours of exercise per day. Walking can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles and bones, and bring your blood pressure down.

a couple walking their dogs
Image by: Aysun Kahraman Öktem, Pexels

Social Connections

When you have a pet, you connect more with other people who have pets or are fond of animals. Again, dogs are great for getting you out and about and chatting with people at the local dog park or on the street. Social interactions, even brief, minor ones can improve your overall quality of life, reduce feelings of loneliness, and boost your mental health.

Better Physical Health

According to a study, pet ownership can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. High blood pressure and heart rate are linked to heart disease, so the findings of this study show that pet ownership can do great things for your physical health as well as your mental health.

Reduced Stress

Another study has revealed that petting animals can heighten oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) levels and reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. This shows that being tactile with your pets may help you feel less isolated, anxious, and depressed.

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Closing Thoughts

Given the vast number of health benefits to actually owning a pet, it comes as no surprise that watching animal videos can be so powerful in terms of making you feel better. So, if you’re feeling the urge to watch cute animal videos, don’t feel guilty for indulging! If you’re considering taking an even bigger step and adopting a pet, you’ll likely experience just as many benefits as the lucky pet you adopt.

Featured Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

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