Cosying up to the fire can help lower blood pressure

Opti-V Flame Effect

It’s official; sitting in front of a fire can be good for your health.

A scientific study by a PhD student at the University of Alabama, obtained by Dimplex, reports “significant reductions in blood pressure” when people watched footage of a fire on a computer screen.

The findings, concluded from three separate trials across 226 adults, show that sitting in front of a fire with the sound of crackling logs “consistently produces reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”

Participants were asked to watch videos of a hearth or campfire on a computer screen in a darkened room and their blood pressure monitored before and after the trial. The greatest reductions in blood pressure were noted after watching footage with sound.

The report notes how the calming effect of fires can be traced back to prehistoric times, when “the flickering light, crackling sounds, warmth and distinctive smell are believed to have provided a relaxation effect that enhanced prosocial behaviour”. Fire also extended the day, provided heat, helped with hunting, warded off predators and illuminated dark places for early humans. 

It has often been thought that fires can provide a relaxing effect and they are commonly used for that reason, from candles in a health spa to social gatherings around a campfire. However, this research proves the same effect can be achieved from fires in the home too – even in the absence of real flames.

The report concludes that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multisensory, absorptive and social experience. It proves that video footage of a fire, particularly when combined with sound, can reduce blood pressure and improve our wellbeing.

Dimplex offers a wide range of heating options, including solid fuel stoves and innovative electric fire technologies such as the Opti-V range, which combines the illusion of real flames with the sound of crackling logs.