Article Jan 13, 2020

You are no longer passing

Watching films at the cinema 'counts as a light workout'

Scientists have suggested a trip to the cinema can be as good for your health as a light form of cardio exercise.

Experts at the University College London recruited 51 participants and used sensors to track their heart rates and skin reactions as they watched Guy Ritchie's 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin in a cinema.

They found that those watching the film spent around 45 minutes in a "healthy heart zone" during which their heart was beating at between 40 to 80 per cent of its maximum rate. A similar effect could be achieved by light cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking or gardening.

The team discovered that the viewers' heart rates became more closely aligned throughout the movie and often beat in unison, while certain moments of the film triggered an increase in emotional arousal levels, according to the skin test results.

In addition to an increased heart rate, researchers concluded that the cinema trip was also beneficial for brain function, memory, focus, and concentration as cinemagoers are focused on keeping track of the plot and the film has their undivided attention. As such, watching a movie in the cinema may be better than at home because there are fewer distractions such as smartphones.

"Cultural experiences like going to the cinema provide opportunities for our brain to devote our undivided attention for sustained periods of time. At the cinema specifically, there is nothing else to do except immerse yourself," said Dr. Joseph Devlin, professor of cognitive neuroscience. "On top of this, our ability to sustain focus and attention plays a critical role in building our mental resilience, because problem-solving typically requires a concentrated effort to overcome obstacles. In other words, our ability to work through problems without distraction makes us better able to solve problems and makes us more productive. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to step away from our devices, this level of sustained focus is good for us."

The study was conducted in conjunction with the Vue cinema chain.