(Virtual) sunshine at home reduces stress

The storm has died down, the sun cautiously extends its bright rays, and ... our filming season is just around the corner! And that means that planning trips to capture new experiences and places is back in full swing. Why? Because filming in the spring and summer ensures that Bike Labyrinth keeps it sunny at home. Not only has that proven to make for a gorgeous finished product, but it also yields less stress.


The sun is a vital part of our lives. Sunlight makes waking up in the summer easier, encourages us to head outside more often, and generally makes everyone more cheerful. For instance, the sun also has a positive physical impact. You produce more vitamin D and endorphins (that's right, the happiness hormone), which gives you more energy and makes you feel relaxed. The sun also boosts your immune system, which is why there are a lot less runny noses in the spring and summer (except if you suffer from hay fever, of course). Those are all sun-related benefits that virtual reality, unfortunately, can’t deliver. And yet, we still opt to shoot as many sunshiny routes as possible.

Why? It all started pretty simply; those just happened to be the best-looking routes. And that’s still a valid reason. But... In the meantime, we've also discovered why it’s not just ‘nice to look at’ – it’s actually good for you too! [Studies] (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1618866720306828) blijkt dat ook digitaal zonlicht (en vooral in combinatie met natuur) show that digital sunlight (especially when combined with nature) also significantly reduces stress. For example, a virtual bike ride on a sunny route helps you to relax, unwind, and exercise – all at the same time.

In addition to less stress, a reduction in violent or intense emotions has also been recorded. Admittedly, measuring emotions is tricky business. But naturally, science has come up with a solution. That solution involves the [Skin Conductance Level] (https://www.mindmedia.com/nl/oplossingen/onderzoek/skin-conductance-level/) (SCL), which measures the skin’s electrical conductivity. And that reflects how much cognition and emotions arouse psychological or physiological excitement. There’s no one-to-one equivalence between the excitement recordings and emotion, but it does give a good indication. High SCL could be caused by an exciting day at work, an unexpected event, a powerful emotion, dropping your cup of coffee, and the list goes on. It appears that exposure to virtual nature and sunlight significantly [reduces SCL] (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10055-021-00595-2).

And stress response readings are also lower. Stress responses could include physical reactions such as rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, and increased muscle strain – all symptoms that make you feel bad. Stress can exhaust you mentally and physically, resulting in a variety of symptoms. Stress undermines your health, causes sleepless nights and headaches, and negatively affects the autonomic nervous system. That makes keeping your stress levels sufficiently low – essential.

So, for the foreseeable future, we'll continue filming in the spring and summer. We’re going to record a whole pile of beautiful (sunny) routes again in 2022 to help everyone get through life stress-free. And obviously, how good the beautiful blue sky looks lit by a bright golden sun can’t hurt.