Lazy cinephiles were given a reason to rejoice today when The Telegraph reported a study which found that merely watching a horror film can burn almost 200 calories. But there are a few major caveats to the study. Because, whether or not you burn calories, watching TV just can’t compete with actual exercise.
The study, which was commissioned by LOVEFiLM, which is like Netflix, except it’s owned by Amazon (red flag number one) and performed by the University of Westminster, looked to study biometrics that indicate calorie burning, like heart rate and oxygen output. And, according to the study, viewers of scary films, like The Exorcist and Jaws, burned about 1/3 more calories than they would otherwise.
It may make a good Halloween-themed headline (watching a movie can burn calories!), the fact is the amount that a horror film can burn, according to the study, is still, at most, 184 calories. And at the least? It’s just 107. For a film that’s about 90 minutes. Which isn’t really that many at all, and is hardly anything to write home about.
Consider if a 130-pound woman watched the same film on a stationary bike at a moderate pace for 90 minutes. She could burn as many as 750 calories, if not more. And running for 90 minutes? You’re looking at well over 800 calories. Plus, beyond just the calories, you’d be getting a heart-healthy aerobic workout, strengthening your muscles, and reaping the many hormonal benefits of a solid, sweaty workout.
Sure, watching a horror film is a fine way to celebrate Halloween, and I don’t doubt that the increased heart-rate you experience could burn calories–but this study isn’t a license to consider powering through your DVR queue a substitution for going to the gym.
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