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Scare Yourself Thin: Horror Helps Burn Calories

Scared Little Finger

photo credit: Christian Baloga

Can I substitute horror for the gym, please?

Even though this question makes me laugh, I know people asked themselves the same thing after reading a new study from the University of Westminster, stating that watching your favorite scary flick may help burn more than 180 calories.

“As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline,” states Richard Mackenzie, cell specialist. He goes on to explain, “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.”

For the horror and thriller stories I read and write, the state of fear is very similar to that of film. So . . . what happens to the body while reading horror?

The average modern horror movie length spans from 75 to 90 minutes. A book, however, can take you on a longer journey of fear. For me, the terror while reading a book lasts longer than the short bursts of stress from a horror film. Does this mean more calories are burned while reading horror? The subject hasn’t been studied as far as I know, but I think most of us horror aficionados would be interested in the results.

Before you go on the horror flick diet and skip your workout—there’s a better idea. Bring your favorite horror book to the gym and start burning those calories twice as fast!