Study finds enjoying a crackling fireplace can reduce stress

Published: Dec. 16, 2014 at 2:40 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2014 at 3:00 AM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Even with all the joy of the holiday season families can sometimes use a stress reliever from all the activities.

Many of us enjoy gathering around a crackling fire in the winter - but did you know it really could reduce your stress?

"Well, I had this idea in the back of my head of testing the role of fire and relaxation," University of Alabama anthropology professor Dr. Chris Lynn said.

The study grew from an idea into three tests of more than 300 adults.

"I thought it would be a good way to get students involved in research. A study we could do on campus. A way to train students. And it took on a life of it's own," he said.

Participants' blood pressure was checked prior to each study. They were shown video of fire without sound for a five-minute period followed by fire with sound and a blank screen for the same amount of time to compare. Later studies lasted 15 minutes and added an upside down fireplace shot without sound.

"Fireplaces are by and large not fuel efficient things. People don't set them up to warm their homes. They set them up to sit there and look at and to look at and to enjoy," Lynn said.

The study concluded that people watching fire with sound had a lower blood pressure rate than the other control conditions. Which means this holiday season it might not be a bad idea to gather the family around the fire to help reduce some holiday stress.

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