If you're a sucker for adorable animal pictures and videos and tend to disappear down a rabbit hole when you get going with them, the good news is that a new study has discovered that procrastinating with cute animal videos has positive health benefits.

The study was conducted by the University of Leeds and Tourism Western Australia, and was based on showing participants Quokka TV videos of the "world’s happiest animal," the quokka, a native species of western Australia. The participants were students preparing to sit an exam later that day, as well as four academic support staff who had declared they were feeling stressed at work. The results found that their levels of anxiety, blood pressure and heart rates were reduced to healthy levels within 30 minutes of participants viewing content of cute animals.

The research recorded incredibly positive results across the board. Anxiety levels within the group reduced by an average of 35%, with some individuals experiencing a fall of almost 50%, and the heart rates of some participants reduced by 24%. The average group blood pressure fell from a pre-high state of hypertension to a healthier reading in line with ‘normal’ levels. With the study proving highly effective at reducing stress in anxious participants, the University of Leeds will now be offering students the opportunity to watch the relaxing animal content ahead of future exams.

“The study results are a fantastic reminder that we benefit massively from exploring and enjoying the natural world," says Elen Thomas of Tourism Western Australia. "The huge improvement seen in the mood and health of the participants is remarkable and a clear sign that wildlife experiences are important for our wellbeing."

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