October 18, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Watch Nature for Health

You don’t even have to leave the couch to benefit. Watch nature programs on a screen, and it can improve your mood.

Another research team found that observing nature, even if on the tube, can improve your sense of well-being. Researchers at the University of Exeter tested nature viewing on human subjects who described themselves as bored. They conclude that “Watching nature on TV can boost wellbeing.” The results were published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

The effect is even better using a virtual reality headset for an immersive experience. While not a substitute for exercise outdoors, such a practice could help shut-ins or those unable to hike or leave the city. It can also help those stuck to a screen at work all day.

The team found that all viewing methods minimised negative feelings such as sadness, as well as significantly reducing boredom. However, only the interactive virtual reality experience led to increases in positive feelings, such as happiness, and strengthened how connected people felt to nature.

Nicky Yeo, lead researcher on the study, believes the findings could have important implications for populations facing extended periods at home. She said:

“Our results show that simply watching nature on TV can help to lift people’s mood and combat boredom. With people around the world facing limited access to outdoor environments because of COVID-19 quarantines, this study suggests that nature programmes might offer an accessible way for populations to benefit from a ‘dose’ of digital nature.”

Try this experiment. Describe your mood before and after watching this video from The John 10:10 Project:


As a bonus, watch this to think about why nature’s beauty has such a beneficial effect on us.



The John 10:10 Project is a service of Illustra Media, producer of Metamorphosis and Flight: The Genius of Birds.

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