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Exercise? Scratch that, watch a horror film

A new study by the University of Westminster has found that watching horror films is as effective as exercise for burning off the kilojoules.

(Credit: Warner Bros)

A new study by the University of Westminster, UK, has found that watching horror films is as effective as exercise for burning off the kilojoules.

We're always a bit suspicious of companies commissioning studies, but this one gives us an excuse to watch horror films. Oh, hang it, who needs an excuse?

Nevertheless, the study (commissioned by Lovefilm) said that getting your heart racing with 90 minutes of scare is a good way to burn off all those extra kilojoules.

It examined 10 people watching horror films, measuring their energy expenditure along the way, The Telegraph reported — and found that watching a scary film can burn up to 184 calories, or around 770 kilojoules — about the same amount as a half-hour walk. (The report didn't say how many kilojoules are burned just by breathing and being awake, though.)

That was at peak; on average, for a 90-minute horror film, the amount burnt is around 113 calories, or 473kJ.

And what was the film that got the viewers' hearts racing the most for that 770kJ peak? The Shining. It was followed by Jaws in second place, at 161 calories (674kJ), and The Exorcist, at 158 calories (661kJ). Since the group was only shown 10 films, it probably shouldn't be read as an accurate list of the scariest films of all time.

Study head Dr Richard Mackenzie, specialist in cell metabolism and physiology, told The Telegraph, "As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. 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."

Next up: gyms replace inane daytime TV with scary movies.