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Playing with pets is a guaranteed way to put a smile on your face, but according to new research, simply watching pets can do the same. In fact, watching cute videos of animals can be associated with an array of health benefits, The Daily Mail reports. Researchers from the University of Leeds and Tourism Western Australia asked participants to watch cute animal videos as part of a study; after the clips ended, researchers noticed that volunteers' blood pressure dropped to healthy levels and their stress decreased by up to 50 percent.
About 20 participants took part in the study, 15 of which were students who were slated to take a test 90 minutes after the research session ended and four others being academic staff who noted that they were stressed at work. Each volunteer watched Western Australia's quokkas, which are known as the happiest animal in the world, for 30 minutes as part of the experiment.
After studying the results, the researchers found that the average blood pressure levels dropped from 136/88 to 115/71 and the average amount of anxiety lowered by 35 percent. However, a few participants saw a 50 percent decrease in anxiety. Dr. Andrea Utley, lead researcher, noted: "It was clear that students were anxious ahead of their exams, with heart rates and blood pressure for most participants mildly elevated before our session took place," she said. "Throughout the course of the session, heart rates and blood pressure fell across all individuals to a level that would be considered healthy and indicative of limited stress or anxiety."
These findings further the idea that interactions with animals—even just by looking at videos—is beneficial for health. Elen Thomas, United Kingdom Market Manager for Tourism Western Australia, said: "The study results are a fantastic reminder that we benefit massively from exploring and enjoying the natural world. The huge improvement seen in the mood and health of the participants is remarkable and a clear sign that wildlife experiences are important for our well-being."