Two questions: 1. Have you ever looked at the lapping flames in a fireplace for so long it was almost hypnotic? And 2. Have you ever felt a sense of peace when in the general proximity of a fireplace? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
Researchers at the University of Alabama studied 226 adults as they observed a video of a fire in a fireplace. The results gave specifics to what we’ve known for years about how fireplaces enhance people’s moods: focusing on fire, in many cases, produces a positive effect on blood pressure, which can result in feeling good, overall.
The internal-calming effect of fire
When the test subjects watched the fireplace video with sound (i.e., the sounds made by a crackling fire), they experienced an average 5-percent reduction in blood pressure. This is good news for anyone working to control high blood pressure. But the test didn’t stop there.
The subjects also were monitored while observing the same video but with no sound. Another round had them watching the fireplace video upside-down. (The video, not the participants.)
In these last two scenarios, the average blood pressure reading of the test subjects actually increased. Why would there be a little “tension” when watching a silent video and one that’s presented upside-down? Nobody knows, exactly, but there are some interesting theories.
When the eyes light on dancing flames, our inner systems naturally expect to hear the popping and crackling always associated with this phenomenon. When that sound is removed, we feel “upset” internally, because we know something’s not right. Same with the upside-down video.
What are those flames actually doing?
Of course, the reason people experience a blood pressure rise when viewing weird videos isn’t as important as why they become more serene when watching a normal fireplace in operation. And again, there may be many explanations for this. Perhaps the rollicking flames have a similar effect to a hypnotist’s swinging pocket watch. Maybe by staring deep into the flames, we tune out much of the world and go into a place of rest.
Either way, flames tend to affect us psychologically. And the University of Alabama study showed that this happens whether the fire is real or just a video.
Homeowners who want to pursue the positive benefits of a fireplace have so many amazing ways to accomplish that today. Modern fireplace designs make it easy to choose a nice, handsome fireplace for the main room and more compact units for smaller rooms, increasing other important benefits that come from these appliances: efficient zone heating throughout the home, and the welcomed reduction of utility bills during the colder months.
If you want to enjoy a fireplace and reap the benefits, Marsh’s Stoves & Fireplaces of Toronto has what you’re looking for. See a full line of beautiful gas and wood fireplace models in styles and sizes to make great additions to any room. We’re at 3322 Dundas Street West. Reach us by phone with questions at (416) 762-4582.