Ever since my gran showed me The Exorcist as an impressionable young lad of eight-years-old – (thanks Gran) – I’ve loved horror movies.
Whether it be the gruesome delights of The Thing, the spine-tingling thrills of Poltergeist, all the way to the frankly naff Amityville Horror I think horror is splendid and as such, have long considered watching scary films oddly therapeutic.
Well, guess what – it only turns out I’m bloody right.
According to a survey done by researchers at the University of Westminster, watching a frightening film has a number of advantageous effects, including; burning calories and boosting people’s moods, report The Guardian.
Interestingly though, how beneficial horror will be for you depends on two things: namely how scary you find the film you’re watching and how much you actually want to be scared.
Researchers got ten people to watch ten scary films and monitored their heart rate, oxygen intake and output of carbon dioxide.
They found how exposing the test subjects to scary stimuli caused them to release adrenaline, which the author of the study, Richard Mackenzie, claims triggers the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response.
When this response is triggered, the body starts burning fat stores for energy, while also releasing blood sugar – it also forces your body to up your metabolism causing you to burn sugar without the need for oxygen.
There are more benefits than just weight loss though – a separate study, published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, revealed watching horror also causes the body to release more white blood cells.
This is again linked to the body’s fight or flight response and allows people to fight infections and temporarily boosts immune function.
Furthermore, a good scare can improve a person’s mood, as counter-intuitive as that seems, or at least that’s the claim of Margee Kerr, a sociologist and fear researcher and author of Scream: Chilling Adventures In the Science of Fear.
She told Time:
The research my colleagues and I have done shows a high-arousal negative stimuli improves mood significantly.
Kerr explains how after being frightened, they tend to feel less anxious, less frustrated and happier.
Now before you sit your infirm relatives in front of the box for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre marathon, we should explain there’s a pretty major caveat to this whole thing – the person being scared only gets the benefits if they’ve chosen to be frightened.
It means you have to be a horror fan in the first place to reap the benefits and exposure to frightening films left some people with residual anxiety over the horrors they saw as children.
Not me though, I’m sure watching The Exorcist as a child hasn’t affected me in the slightest.
Now if you’ll excuse me Mr Howdy and I have an important meeting with the king of the demons of the wind, Pazuzu!
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