Scary films can burn off the same number of calories as a half-hour walk
- Scientists from the University of Westminster claim watching a scary film can help burn calories
- The Shining was named as the best horror flick for getting viewers' heart rates soaring
It's the weight loss advice you never thought you’d hear: To burn as many calories as a 30-minute walk, sit on your sofa and watch a movie.
The movie has to be scary and the scarier it is the more calories you’re likely to use.
Calorie burner: The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson, has been found to burn an average 184 calories, close to the same amount as a half-hour walk
They monitored the viewers’ heart rate, oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output to work out how much energy they were using.
The scientists found that on average the participants used up a third more calories watching the scary films than if they had been sitting in front of a blank screen.
And on average viewers burned 113 calories over 90-minutes of film watching – the same amount as a 30-minute walk – which would off set the calories in a small chocolate bar.
However, the films that made viewers jump in terror were the best calorie-burners because they cause the heart rate to soar.
Runner-up: Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws was the second best thriller for calorie busting, scientists found
Horror: The controversial 1974 film The Exorcist was at number three in the list
Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws took the runner-up spot, with viewers burning on average 161 calories, while the 1973 classic The Exorcist, starring Max von Sydow, came third, using up 158 calories.
More recent horror films scored worse on the scale of calorie-burning, with 2007 Spanish film [Rec] using the least, at 101 calories.
Dr Richard Mackenzie, a metabolism specialist at the University of Westminster, said: ‘It is the release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress, or in this case, fear, which is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.’
Helen Cowley, of movie rental company LOVEFiLM, which teamed up with the university for the study, said: ‘We all know the feeling of wanting to hide behind the sofa or grab a pillow when watching scary or hair raising scenes. This research suggests that maybe those seeking to burn some calories should keep their eyes on the screen.’