The Efficacy of a Brief Nature Sound Intervention on Muscle Tension, Pulse Rate, and Self-Reported Stress: Nature Contact Micro-Break in an Office or Waiting Room

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There is a growing recognition that environmental design impacts health and well-being. Nature contact is a design feature or exposure that is especially important in public health and healthcare. To date, there are limited findings on the impact of nature sounds.


This experimental study was designed to examine the effect of nature sounds on physiological and psychological stress.


Participants were randomized into one of three groups—silence (n = 9), nature sound (n = 17), and classical music (n = 14)—and listened to the assigned sound for 15 min in an office or waiting room-like environment. Pre- and postdata were collected including muscle tension (electromyogram), pulse rate, and self-reported stress.


With the exception of pulse rate, there were no statistical differences in baseline or demographics among groups. A paired t-test by group showed a decrease in muscle tension, pulse rate, and self-reported stress in the nature group and no significant differences in the control or the classical music groups. The significant reduction in muscle tension occurred at least by 7 min of listening to the nature sound.


This study highlights the potential benefit of even very brief (less than 7 min) exposure to nature sounds. Brief nature sound “booster breaks” are a promising area for future research with important practical implications.

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