Due to the importance of baseline and recovery levels in the computation of reactivity, two studies were conducted to determine an alternative method to traditional rest for achieving baseline and recovery levels of cardiovascular measurements. Watching a relaxing, aquatic video was compared with a traditional resting baseline to determine the better method for achieving low baseline levels. In addition, watching the video was compared with traditional rest during 5-min post-task recovery periods. Systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) decreased more during the baseline period when subjects viewed the video than when subjects rested quietly. Similarly, subjects displayed greater recovery following the mental tasks when they watched a video than when they merely sat quietly. It is recommended that researchers standardize baseline procedures by showing a relaxing video before administering tasks for the assessment of cardiovascular reactivity. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.