Scientists say roaring real fires can help keep blood pressure low, according to new research.
A real fire is not only the heart of the home – it’s good for your health too. Scientists have discovered a link between a burning fire in the hearth and a “significant” reduction in blood pressure. Flickering flames, combined with the crackle and roar of burning logs, possess a hypnotic calming effect. Fires, he discovered, also “cement” a bond between individuals sitting next to them.
Christopher Lynn, the biological anthropologist behind the study, said the discovery of fire by early humans not only helped them cook and stay warm but will have encouraged their ‘social behavior’.
The study by University of Alabama may also go a long way to explaining the recent surge in popularity of wood burning stoves, whose sales have risen 300 per cent in recent years.
“For early humans, fire extended the day, provided heat, helped with hunting, warded off predators and insects, illuminated dark places, and facilitated cooking,” said Dr Lynn, adding: “The hypnotic influence of watching campfires also provided a social nexus and relaxation effects that could have enhanced social behavior. Calmer, more tolerant people would have benefited in fireside interactions.”
Dr Lynn asked 226 adults to watch a video of an open fire with sound, and without, and also compared to a blank screen. They were tested for blood pressure, their susceptibility to hypnotism and how social they were as a result.
The study in the journal of Evolutionary Psychology found: “Fire with sound consistently produces reductions in… blood pressure, and reductions grow stronger with… exposure.
“Findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multi-sensory, absorptive, and social experience.”
Dr Lynn concluded that the relaxing and hypnotic effects of fire could also help individuals’ bond.
“Although the importance of controlled fires in human evolution is indisputable, the relaxation aspect had remained uninvestigated.
“As our ancestors sat around hearth and campfires, they may have experienced secondary relaxation benefits, particularly in the dark when other stimuli were limited, and firelight was the only thing to see well or focus on.
“[Even today] campfires are still used as social pivots in modern societies, even when other forms of light, warmth, cooking, and predator avoidance are available.”
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