I love staying fit and working out. I also love watching movies and going to the cinema. I’ve always treated these two parts as achieving completely opposite goals and desires for myself, but according to a new study by University College London (reported in The Times), watching a movie and especially going to the theatre can actually be considered a light workout. Does this mean I get double the Vitality points now?
While we often hear of reports about how watching too much TV is bad for you, it’s encouraging to hear a study that actually provides the opposite, though it does seem that it will require you to leave that favourite couch and binge-watching and head to your local theatre to get the health benefits of it all. And while I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some cinema chain somewhere that may have sponsored this scientific experiment, the research makes a lot of sense
According to the research, not only does watching an emotional scene from a film increase your heart rate, but it also improves your brain’s health and ability to focus. However, the study states that watching movies in the theatre is a more effective form of exercise and not just because the calories burned walking into the movie theatre. In a cinema, viewers have fewer distractions and are able to become more emotionally invested in the film, which leads to these heightened physical responses. The study fails to mention the impact on your heart though when you hyperventilate at how much the whole movie-going experience is as well, nor the impact of soda and popcorn on it all.
The study focused on a laughably small sample size of 51 moviegoers as they watched the live-action Aladdin in theatres while other participants in the control group read a novel. Each participant wore sensors that indicated body temperature, heart rate and skin reaction. The moviegoers’ heart rates ranged between 40 percent and 80 percent into the healthy heart range for approximately 45 minutes of the movie, the same way going for a brisk walk would. Moviegoers even synced heart rates and emotional skin reaction during particularly intense moments of the film. And this was just watching a light-hearted film like Aladdin, imagine a long roller-coaster action film like Avengers: Endgame or a tense horror film.
So, that’s comforting to know that when I don’t feel like going for a workout, I can still get my cardio workout by doing another of my favourite hobbies and watching a movie. Though it does also appear that your mom was right, and you shouldn’t sit in front of the TV for so long. Just go continue your watching in a cinema instead.
Last Updated: January 16, 2020