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Feeling down? Step outside for a bird walk

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some tweets on Twitter can cause a lot of stress these days on that social media platform. But a study from King's College in London says real verified tweet, tweet, tweets from real birds might be beneficial. Researchers had participants download an app that would occasionally ask them how they're feeling and questions about their immediate environment, including were they near trees or water or could they see or hear a bird. Lead author Ryan Hammoud says their data showed that having a bird nearby might lift moods.

RYAN HAMMOUD: I wouldn't say that we went into this with an interest in birds. We're all sort of mental health researchers. So we went into this trying to discover why the incidence of mental illness is much higher in cities when compared to rural areas.

SIMON: The benefit was statistically significant and could last up to 8 hours.

HAMMOUD: So I wouldn't go as far as saying that everyday encounters with birds would cure depression. I would say that everyday encounters with birds is beneficial to people with depression.

SIMON: Why may birdsong lift our moods like the music of BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music? Ryan Hammoud says...

HAMMOUD: There are several sort of theories about why nature in general can benefit mental health, whether that's by improving concentration by decreasing mental fatigue; it can reduce stress and lower blood pressure and stress-induced hormones. But specifically to do with birds - that would require some further research and some further exploration.

SIMON: Tweet on - the birds, I mean.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BYRDS SONG, "ALL I HAVE ARE MEMORIES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.