Good news · Happy Nature

Nature Documentaries Offer the Same Health Benefits as Real Nature


Recent study suggests that nature documentaries have similar benefits to actually being outside.


Credit: Planet Earth II, BBC

The health benefits of getting outside, be them mental or physical, are truly tremendous. The nature world is beautiful, awe-inspiring and good for our health, boosting positive emotions such as joy, contentment, relaxation, and general happiness. With our modern world and lifestyles, our schedules are becoming increasingly jam-packed, and we sometimes struggle to spend some time amongst our natural world. But a recent study undertaken by the University of Berkley, California, and BBC Earth has shown that merely watching nature documentaries can be as satisfying and fulfilling as the real deal.

Seeing is Feeling

The study, completed by Dacher Keltner in collaboration with BBC Earth, saw more than 7,500 individuals from around the globe watch clips of the outstanding nature documentary Planet Earth II, shown last year on BBC One. The participants completed a short survey before and after watching the clips. The study measured emotions in real time using facial mapping technology. As Keltner expected, the clips significantly boosted positive emotions – such as joy, wonder, curiosity and amusement – and lowered negative emotions such as stress, fatigue and nervousness.

Natural Happiness

The results of the study encouraged the BBC to launch the Real Happiness Project, a so-called “mission to bring real happiness to as many people as possible by improving their connection to the natural world”. Through the project’s website, you can discover the science behind happiness and nature, create personalised ‘happy moments’, and view and share your own experiences of when nature gave you that real zen feeling.

“We’re always striving to bring our audiences closer to nature and it’s thrilling to see how this can generate such positive emotions and have a powerful impact on our viewer’s mood and wellbeing” – Mike Gunton, Planet Earth II executive producer.


Credit: Planet Earth II, BBC

The Real Deal

This study shows the remarkable positive effects that nature can have on us. Simply watching images of nature on a screen can help boost our happiness levels. If you’ve got the winter blues and don’t feel like traipsing around in the snow, or if you simply love David Attenborough (as I do), the benefits of nature can be experienced from the comfort of your own living room. Although their effects are similar, nothing beats the real deal. A job lot of studies have proven the link between the great outdoors and mental health, so put down the smartphone, plan some nature time this weekend or make the most of your lunch break, and go experience nature first-hand.


Credit: Planet Earth II, BBC.




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