Watching Scary Movies While Exercising Can Pump Up Your Workout Just In Time For Halloween
There are days my motivation to work out is minimal at best, and as the weather gets colder, those days seem to become more and more frequent. Yes, the moment the temperature starts to drop, and the leaves even suggest turning color, I'd really rather just curl up on the couch with a bowl of chips and a horror movie to begin my very enthusiastic countdown to Halloween. But luckily for me, I've discovered a new motivation that might help me get in the mood to move when I'm just not feelin' it. It turns out that watching scary movies while exercising can actually pack a serious punch when it comes to your aerobic exercise.
Believe it or not, this is not as much of a stretch as it sounds. There has been actual research done that supports the idea that watching a horror film has around the same aerobic and metabolic impact as taking a 30-minute walk.
The research, which was done at the University of Westminster, involved showing participants iconically scary films while monitoring their heart rate, oxygen intake, and their output of carbon dioxide.
Among the movies shown were Jaws, The Exorcist, and The Shining. That last one actually had the greatest metabolic impact, which doesn't surprise me personally, because The Shining, while also a freaking masterpiece, is frightening AF.
The researchers found heart rates rapidly increased and caused a blast of adrenaline while the participants watched the films.
So, why not go a step further and combine those activities and work out while you watch the horror movie?
Or, better yet, to get into the proper Halloween spirit, why not get the blood pumping unstoppably just like it does through the Overlook Hotel hallways in The Shining?
And if scary movies just ain't your thing, I feel you. I honestly still have trouble going to sleep after watching The Shining, despite the fact that I've definitely watched it a minimum of a dozen times by now.
Anyway, research shows that simply watching something -- a TV show, movie, whatever your heart desires -- while you exercise can be generally beneficial, if done in moderation.
So, maybe this shouldn't be something you do all the time for every workout. Lord knows we could all use a little less time in front of screens as it is. But when you're really looking for that extra push and extra dose of distraction, a film or TV show can be just the thing.
A study from 2014 published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed evidence to support the notion that a combination of audio and visual stimuli (read: music/dialogue and video, like a movie) can make a workout seem less difficult. The results also demonstrated increased positive feelings during intense exercise in this context.
Some gyms have even taken this a step further, like Retro Fitness in West Orange, New Jersey, where they have a room that has a giant movie screen and cardio machines. Apparently, more and more gyms are hopping on this bandwagon, since it sounds, as workouts go, like a kind of heaven.
So if you, like me, want to give a horror-movie-workout a go, I have plenty of recommendations -- both of the classic and not-so-classic variety -- that might just do the trick for that whole increased heart rate thing. To name just a few off the top of my head, there's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Possession, Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, Don't Breathe, Hush, Suspiria, Raw, In Her Skin, We Need To Talk About Kevin, or Session 9.
Like I said before, just make sure you don't watch these films right before you go to bed. Your heart rate will have already peaked for the day, and there's no need to make your blood pump while you sleep, too.