Researchers Find How Going To The Movies Can Be A Form Of Light Cardio

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
Popcorn in red striped box on pink background with kernels flying around

Image by Jeff Wasserman / Stocksy

The next time you need a workout, you may want to consider going to see a movie. Researchers have found that one viewing session at the movie theater may mimic the physical effects of a light cardio workout. 

In the study, researchers at the University College in London tested the mental and physical effects of going to the movies by comparing a group of people that went to the movies versus read a book. The 51 people who watched the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin were compared to a control group that read a novel for the same amount of time.

Based on questionnaires and biometric sensors that tested things like heart rate and body temperature, participants who watched the movie showed an increased heart rate that adhered to levels of the "healthy heart zone." In the two-hour time frame of the movie, viewers spent an average of 40 minutes in this zone, and according to researchers, "Though very light, this level of stimulation can help to build cardio fitness levels and burn fat."

While we don't actually recommend switching your workout routine with watching a movie, this study gives us an important reminder to take a step back when there's too much going on. Beyond the opportunity for some light cardio, media multitasking—or watching something with a smartphone still in hand—can decrease the ability to pay attention and recall information and may even affect our brain structure.

The study also showed that viewers retained positive emotional and mental benefits from the experience with 55% of viewers reporting it was therapeutic and they felt uplifted by the experience.

As the study concludes, "The cinema is one of the only places left where you can step away from devices and the outside world and truly switch off. The distinctive characteristics of the cinema—namely, the extended, immersive, social and focused characteristics can collectively impact our brain and creativity."

With awards show season upon us, now is a great time to catch up on all the movies getting Oscar buzz. And if you can't make it to the theater, find ways to stay off your phone with the TV on.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

More On This Topic

The Ultimate Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition

The Ultimate Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition
More Movement

Popular Stories

Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Sites We Love

Your article and new folder have been saved!