Why is sitting next to a fire so relaxing?
According to a University of Alabama study, watching a fire lowers blood pressure and the enjoyment of gazing at fire is rooted in evolution. The act of gathering around a fire dates back to prehistoric times and researchers found an average of a 5% decrease in blood pressure among participants who watched the fire with sound.
The longer they watched the fire, the more relaxed they became. The reason for the relaxing effect goes back to when Stone Age man socialized around camp fires and felt safe and warm while bonding with family and friends.
In the study, 226 adults watched a video of a fire, complete with sound effects. Their blood pressure was taken before and after viewing the fire for various periods in between. The researchers discovered that blood pressure decreased across the participants and that the longer people watched the fire, the more relaxed they became.
The study also indicated that the experience seemed to make participants become more sociable as well as influence arterial blood pressure. For early humans, fire extended the day, facilitated cooking, provided warmth, warded off predators and illuminated dark places.
The findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a “multisensory, absorptive, and social experience”.
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