Watching scary movies, apart from causing panic and nightmares, can have an effect that we hadn’t taken into account. According to a study, you can burn calories, and lose weight, by increasing your heart rate while enjoying / suffering.
Researchers at the University of Westminster (UK) measured the total energy burn rate of 10 people while watching a selection of horror films. Their heart rate, oxygen input and carbon dioxide output were recorded and the number of calories spent was found to increase by a third, on an average, during the movie show.
“Each of the 10 films tested set pulses racing, sparking an increase in the heart rate of the case studies,” explains Richard Mackenzie, a senior lecturer and specialist in cell metabolism and physiology at the University of Westminster.
‘The Shining’, the one that burns the most calories
“As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or, in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate, and ultimately burn a higher level of calories,” Mackenzie adds.
The study also finds that movies with numerous jump scenes probably burn the most calories as they cause the biggest spike in heart rate.
Researchers have also calculated the number of calories lost by watching 10 of the most popular horror movies in history. The list, which heads ‘The Shining’, is as follows
- ‘The Shining’: 184 calories
- ‘Jaws’: 161 calories
- ‘The Exorcist’: 158 calories
- ‘Alien’: 152 calories
- ‘Saw’: 133 calories
- ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’: 118 calories
- ‘Paranormal Activity’: 111 calories
- ‘The Blair Witch Project’: 105 calories
- ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’: 107 calories
- ‘Rec’: 101 calories
In line with this, Margee Kerr, a sociologist and fear researcher, argues that being scared could also elevate the mood. People seem less anxious, less frustrated, and even happier after a fearful experience.
However, caution, especially if you have heart problems since it would not be the first case of people who have suffered a heart attack while watching a horror movie.