Natural sounds are good for our health, including birdsong for stress and water for positivity

·2 min read
Photo credit: Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Natural soundscapes, such as the symphony of birds and trickling water, can positively influence human health, new research has confirmed.

While the benefits of nature are endless, findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that exposure to birdsong can help to reduce stress, while the soft sound of flowing water can boost positivity.

After analysing recorded sounds from 251 sites in 66 national parks across the US, researchers found that water was the most effective mood-booster, with the continuous sound of water masking other unwanted noise (such as traffic).

The growth of urbanisation has made it harder for many to soak up the sounds of nature, but this study shows that just a simple walk to the park can help our health.

"Park sites near urban areas with higher levels of visitation represent important targets for soundscape conservation to bolster health for visitors," Kurt Fristrup, a co-author on the study and bioacoustical scientist at the National Park Service," told MailOnline.

Photo credit: KenCanning - Getty Images
Photo credit: KenCanning - Getty Images

"Nature-based health interventions are increasingly common in parks and incorporating explicit consideration of the acoustic environment is an opportunity to enhance health outcomes for people."

Elsewhere in the study, exposure to natural sounds can also help to decrease pain, heart rate and blood pressure, while increasing cognitive ability.

Photo credit: Schon - Getty Images
Photo credit: Schon - Getty Images

Study author Rachel Buxton, from Carleton University, Canada, added: "In so many ways the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of nature for human health. As traffic has declined during quarantine, many people have connected with soundscapes in a whole new way – noticing the relaxing sounds of birds singing just outside their window."

Why not take a moment this spring to appreciate the natural sounds around you?

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