Could a good belly-laugh be considered exercise?Two recently-released studies endorse what kids have been saying forever: Sitting in front of the TV could actually be good for you.
According to these studies, getting spooked during a scary movie or laughing during a comedy could be considered calorie-burning exercise.
Researchers at the University of Westminster found that subjects who watched a 90-minute horror flick burned up to 113 calories — the equivalent of a half-hour walk.
"As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline," according to Dr. Richard Mackenzie, a specialist of cell metabolism and physiology at the university. "It is this release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories."
According to researchers, watching 'The Shining' burns the most calories
According to the study, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining caused viewers to burn the most calories — 184, the equivalent of a small chocolate bar.
"Laughter involves the repeated, forceful exhalation of breath from the lungs," states Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford. "The muscles of the diaphragm have to work very hard."
And by extension, prolonged laughing can prove difficult and exhausting, just like a hard workout. Blood flows and endorphin levels rise, the same things that occur during strenuous exercise.
Now, before scheduling long hours of television-watching to compensate for a trip to the gym, it's important to differentiate these activities from actual exercise. Sure, a good movie can get your blood flowing, and it's long been known that a hearty laugh does a body good. But anything that involves sitting on your butt for extended periods of time can't be considered actual life-extending exercise. If that were the case, those who play video games for hours would be among the fittest people on the planet.
If you buy into the spin from these findings, though, go ahead and scratch out the idea of going outside for exercise — just pop in a horror flick or raucous comedy for a good workout right on the couch.
The week in silly studies is a feature that appears each Tuesday.
It is not intended to mock real science.
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