New Research On Benefits Of Firelight

New Research On Benefits Of Firelight

CRITTENDEN, KY - It’s no secret fire can help people relax. But can it actually help them age better? New research confirms the answer is yes.

Napoleon, a manufacturer of gas, electric, and wood fireplaces, partnered with the University of Illinois and University of Alabama to study the health impacts of fire on our lives. There is a common sentiment that firelight is relaxing and that relaxed people are healthier. Napoleon set out to explore what the true impacts of fire are on wellness.

“Of the four natural elements of our world – earth, air, water, and fire – everyone who owns a home has an opportunity to experience the first three on a daily basis,” said Chris Schroeter, co-chief executive officer at Napoleon. “But how many people are living without fire? We partnered with these research universities to see if fire could be the missing link between the home and health and wellness. We had no idea that what we’d discover could actually change what we know about aging and impact the future in such a big way.”

The first study, which took place during fall of 2022 at the University of Alabama, tested whether an electric fireplace could induce physical relaxation. To establish an electric fireplace as an effective tool for relaxation, 226 unassuming adults were asked to spend 15 minutes in two different rooms. The rooms were exactly the same with one exception: an electric fireplace. Participants wore a simple heart rate monitor and pre- and post-test blood pressures were compared.

The study found statistically significant decreases in both heart rate and blood pressure in the room with a fireplace. The results indicate that a fireplace could be used as an effective in-home amenity to combat feelings of stress, which can lead to enhanced well-being and improved health.

“Stress-related disorders are among the leading causes of disability in the modern era and pose significant economic impacts worldwide,” said Garry Scott, vice president of Marketing at Napoleon. “This study proves that fire can not only feel relaxing, it can also physically reduce stress. In essence, a fireplace is more than just a fireplace. It’s not just a source of warmth or nostalgia. It’s a beacon of health and wellbeing in the home.”

The second study, which occurred during the fall of 2022 at the University of Illinois, tested whether an electric fireplace could support wellbeing by creating environments that bolster enrichment seeking in adults aged 50 or older. Enrichment seeking is the process of seeking new information, skills, and insights. Those who seek out and engage in novel, intellectually challenging, or socially complex activities tend to also maintain higher cognitive and socioemotional well-being as they age. Therefore, enrichment seeking is important for health and well-being, but it must be nurtured.

Sixty adults played a game in high pressure/no pressure conditions with and without a fireplace. Participants in the room with a fireplace saw a 12% improvement in cognitive ability (as measured by game performance) and their adaptivity to enrichment seeking increased. The results provide evidence that adding a fireplace to a home environment nurtures curiosity and openness to new ideas, thereby supporting health and wellbeing as people age.

“Enrichment seeking fosters resilience to age-related tendencies and is important for health and well-being,” said Shannon Mejia, Ph.D., professor of health, technology and aging at the University of Illinois. “Adding a fireplace to your home could reduce stress response and support enrichment seeking. The more adaptive you are to enrichment seeking the more healthily you age.”

When the global pandemic hit and new normals took their toll, daily stress and anxiety were on a universal rise. From that, topics such as mental health and wellness — particularly in the home—emerged as a new priority for people. This trend has become an enduring shift in people’s priorities.

“For builders, architects, and designers who are on the front lines of consumer requests for wellness in the home — including spa like bathrooms, outdoor oases or indoor gyms — this research supports that adding a fireplace can help provide yet another positive health experience in the home,” added Schroeter. “And not just in the living room, but any room. No matter where your ‘happy place’ is in your home, a fireplace, including an electric fireplace, has the capacity to transform any space into a sanctuary and encourage healthy aging.”