I know what you’re thinking: With empty calories and high-fructose corn syrup abound, how exactly can celebrating Halloween be deemed healthy?
Not to mention, the stress you get from choosing a costume and deciding which after-party to attend.
But don’t fret: We can rethink our perspective about that dreaded night of itchy costumes and insidious monosaccharides.
Believe it or not, there’s more life to Halloween than there is death:
1. Candy has a myriad of health benefits.
Taken in moderation, candy can actually be healthy.
In addition to containing antioxidants which reduce the risk of cancer, dark chocolate, for example, can help prevent strokes and fight depression.
Research has shown eating peppermint can also improve memory and alertness, while chewing gum can reduce stress and improve self-control.
But of course, don’t go overboard, lest you fancy developing cavities.
2. Walking door-to-door is a physical activity.
Celebrating Halloween does lend itself to moderate physical activity.
Trick-or-treating and walking from one house to another for 30 to 60 minutes can easily burn up to 300 calories.
Science also shows walking at night increases your metabolism, aids digestion, improves blood circulation and induces sleep.
Imagine the comic irony if you see trick-or-treaters dressed up as characters from "The Walking Dead."
3. Halloween is essentially a social activity.
The origins of All Hallow’s Eve were religious in nature, dating back to the 16th century.
Colloquially known in western countries as "Halloween," it has now become a yearly celebration, marked by activities like pumpkin carving, visiting haunted attractions and cult movie screenings.
Participating in these Halloween escapades can actually improve your health.
According to a study at Carnegie Mellon University, people who engage in social activities tend to have better immune systems than those who don’t.
Being involved in social activities can also be mentally therapeutic, and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
4. Celebrating Halloween can strengthen family relationships.
The holidays are always a great time to develop social connections with our loved ones, and Halloween is no exception.
What better way to bury the family drama than with some costume shopping and trick-or-treating?
Research has shown those who have strong social relationships tend to have longer lifespans than those who prefer to be isolated and alone.
When celebrating Halloween with the family, not only are you strengthening familial bonds, you are also reducing the risk of premature death.
5. Dressing up for Halloween can be a stress-reliever.
Before you donned your (hopefully) inoffensive, non-culturally appropriating Halloween costume, you most likely spent a good amount of time surfing the web or perusing countless racks of polyester at your local Halloween store.
Consider that time investment a healthy one.
The act of shopping has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Professor of marketing at Pennsylvania State University, Margaret Meloy, found shopping can de-escalate negative moods.
But the stress relief doesn’t stop at the shopping.
By wearing silly and outrageous costumes, you are being playful and channeling your inner child.
Studies show this can refresh your mind, and jumpstart your creativity.
6. Watching scary movies is good for the soul.
Who would have thought inducing fear in yourself could actually be a good thing?
At least, that’s what a study at the University of Westminster discovered.
Dr. Richard MacKenzie, a senior physiology lecturer at the university, found one can burn up to 200 calories after watching a scary movie.
Dr. MacKenzie explains the “release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress -- or in this case, brought on by fear -- is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.”
Some researchers also believe watching scary movies serves as a coping mechanism for actual fears, and it may desensitize phobias.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and celebrate human mortality this Halloween.
Doing so might just lift up some spirits, including your own.