Going to the cinema counts as a ‘light workout’ - according to scientists

How many times did you go to the cinema last year? (Photo: Shutterstock)How many times did you go to the cinema last year? (Photo: Shutterstock)
How many times did you go to the cinema last year? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Going to the cinema has been a beloved pastime for many of us, and with the Oscars right around the corner, there are loads of must see films that are required viewing.

Now it seems you don’t have to feel guilty about choosing a movie night over the gym, since a new study has found that going to the cinema has more health benefits than you might realise.

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How can watching a film count as exercise?

In a study carried out by University College London (UCL) in partnership with Vue Cinemas, researchers found that going to the cinema can have hidden health benefits.

The study looked at 51 people who watched the 2019 live action remake of the Disney film Aladdin and used sensors to track their heart rates and skin reactions. The team then also tracked the same information with a group of people who spent the same amount of time reading.

It found that the cinema goers spent around 45 minutes in a “healthy heart zone” with their heart beating between 40 per cent and 80 per cent of its maximum rate.

The researchers behind the study stated that this has the same effect that light cardiovascular exercise would have on the body.

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Other benefits of cinema trips

The study also found that going to the cinema has other benefits as well on our brain function, social connections, productivity and creativity.

Dr Joseph Devlin, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, said, “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.

“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.”

Dr Devlin explained that, in essence, “our ability to work through problems without distraction makes us better able to solve problems and makes us more productive” and that in a time where many people find it difficult to remove themselves from their digital devices, “this level of sustained focus is good for us”.

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