Moviegoers, specifically those who still enjoy visiting a theater on a regular basis, have reason to rejoice. A new study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL) suggests that going to the movies counts as a light workout. That's not to say that heading to the theater several times a week can replace the gym, but it might not hurt matters any. That is, assuming one doesn't offset the possible benefits with soda, popcorn and candy.
According to the recently published report, 51 participants were taken to see Disney's live-action Aladdin. The participants were wearing sensors that tracked their heart rates and skin reactions while the movie was on. The results were compared to another group of people who spent the same amount of time reading. The study concluded that people who spent at least 40 minutes in a theater experienced an increased heart rate in what is known as the healthy heart zone. The study summarized its findings with the following.
"Though stationary, the film viewers in the study were involved in a form of low-intensity cardio for a set period of time. Over two hours of the film, on average participants' heart rates were in their healthy heart zone for 40 minutes. Though very light, this level of stimulation can help to build cardio fitness levels and burn fat. Heart rate peaks were also aligned with specific storyline moments in the film."
Essentially, viewers who set aside devices and distractions while focusing on a movie in a theater can potentially benefit from what is, more or less, comparable to a light cardiovascular workout. What's more, the study also found several mental benefits as well. 55 percent of the viewers say the experiences was therapeutic emotionally and made them feel uplifted. 45 percent of the participants said they left the theater feeling empowered.
75 percent of participants said they felt fully absorbed by the film and, most surprisingly, nearly half, 45 percent, went as far as to say they felt like they'd had a "transcendent experience", and that the movie "passed them into a completely different state of consciousness." Dr. Joseph Devlin, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, had this to say.
"Cultural experiences like going to the cinema provide opportunities to devote our undivided attention for sustained periods of time. In our daily lives, we habitually multi-task because so many things are competing for our attention. In the cinema, however, there is nothing else you can do except immerse yourself. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to step away from our devices, this kind of sustained focus is good for us."
In an era that is increasingly dominated by Netflix and other streaming services, it can be difficult for some to justify leaving the house to go see a movie. That's understandable. Though, this study shows that taking the time to go have a communal experience in a movie theater may be well worth the time. This news was previously reported by the New York Post.