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Nature has a calming effect, watching it on TV doesn't

Previous research has shown that nature has enormous benefits on our health and well-being, for example a view of greenery from a hospital room window can aid recovery after surgery. But does nature have a direct impact on us i.e. do we have to experience it first hand to feel the effects, or can we observe nature second hand through a television screen and still reap the benefits? According to researchers watching natural scenes on a plasma screen is just not the same as experiencing nature directly and does not produce the same beneficial outcomes.

With advances in modern technology there is an increasing trend away from experiencing the natural world directly and a move towards experiencing it indirectly through the virtual world.  Research published in this month?s journal of Environmental Psychology, looks at whether there is a difference between the two

The study involved a group of ninety students who were given a set of challenging tasks to solve. Heart rate was measured between the tasks, and this was used to indicate recovery from the stressful situation. The students were in one of three groups while doing the tasks: some sat at a table with a view of greenery from the window; while others sat facing a plasma screen viewing the exact same scene though via a digital recording; the control group sat facing a window with the curtains drawn.

The researchers found that those students looking directly out of the window showed a quicker recovery of heart rate than those in either the plasma screen group or the control group. In addition to this, the length of time looking out of the window correlated with faster recovery.  This study not only supports the benefits of directly experiencing nature over watching similar scenes on TV but it also further supports previous research which shows that nature has a calming effect on people. To read the article click here

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