Study claims that watching horror films could help you to lose weight
Throughout October, I'm sure many of us tried to get into the Halloween spirit by watching a scary film or two. Perhaps you finally psyched yourself up to watch the remake of IT from last year, or maybe you went for an old classic such as The Exorcist or The Omen (both of which are now fairly tame, by today's standards).
As we move further away from Halloween and closer towards the Christmas season, however, the types of movies we'll be watching are changing. No longer is Netflix pushing Friday the 13th or Insidious or any other iconically creepy flick; instead, we're all starting to get recommendations for Elf and The Santa Clause.
And that's all very well and good if you want to distance yourself from the horror genre and start preparing for the festive season. However, when it comes to the health benefits of certain movies, you might want to stick with the scary movies for just a little longer...
A study conducted by the University of Westminster back in 2012 found that watching horror films could help an individual to lose weight. The research, which was funded by the former video subscription service LoveFilm, involved getting 10 people to watch 10 different scary movies - all the while being monitored for their heart rate, oxygen intake and output of carbon dioxide.
Of the 10 films viewed, The Shining scored the highest in terms of burning calories, with the viewer managing to use a whopping 184 calories during the flick. To put that in perspective: it would take around 40 minutes for the average person to burn that amount of energy walking at a fast pace.
Obviously, this study was very small, and was not peer-reviewed at all. However, other studies in the past have come up with similar findings - so there may still be some truth to the hypothesis.
A 2003 study from Coventry University found that watching a horror film significantly increased people’s abilities to fight off disease and infection by improving the circulation of white blood cells. "These [effects] were accompanied by significant increases in heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure," the paper said, which indicates that a greater number of calories would have been burned than at a resting heart rate (i.e. when someone wasn't watching a scary film).
What's more, it's been proven that a scary movie can improve a person's mood.
"The research my colleagues and I have done show a high-arousal negative stimuli improves mood significantly," said Margee Kerr, a sociologist and fear researcher. According to her, people feel less anxious and frustrated after a scary experience - though this only applies to people who actually enjoy spooky films.
So, if you're not quite ready to transition to the Christmas films just yet, here's your excuse to marathon all the Halloween films over the next week or so. Just remember to lay off the popcorn while you do so, otherwise you might find yourself putting *on* the pounds rather than burning them off.