Study: Watching Horror Films Can Help You Burn Calories

Watching scary horror films can help moviegoers burn off quite a few unwanted calories, according to a recent university study.

The Examiner explains that kicking back with a few scary movies this Halloween could help genre fans burn off a significant amount of calories. Instead of hitting the treadmill for 15 minutes, you can, in theory, crash out on the couch with one of the Paranormal Activity films and lose weight in the process.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Westminster revealed that “viewers who put themselves through 90 minutes of adrenaline-pumping terror can use up as much as 113 calories, close to the amount burned during a half-hour walk and the equivalent to a chocolate bar.” For those who love to munch on sweets while watching Freddy Krueger slice and dice his way through an endless supply of horny teenagers, this is certainly good news.

According to the folks at Bloody Disgusting, the website that originially published the study, the most calories were burned during a screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s classic Stephen King adaptation The Shining. Researchers revealed that watching this two hour motion picture can burn up to 184 calories.

Other films covered in the recent study were Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (161 calories), William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (158 calories), Ridley Scott’s Alien (152 calories), Saw (133 calories), Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (118 calories), Paranormal Activity (111 calories), The Blair Witch Project (105 calories), Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (107 calories), and the Spanish-language horror film [REC] (101 calories).

The Daily Mail reports that scientists at the University of Westminster obtained the results after monitoring the heart rate, oxygen intake, and carbon dioxide output of those individuals who were selected to watch the aforementioned motion pictures. The scarier the movie, the more calories you can expect to lose.

“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,” metabolism specialist Dr. Richard Mackenzie explained.

“We all know the feeling of wanting to hide behind the sofa or grab a pillow when watching scary or hair raising scenes,” explained LOVEFiLM’s Helen Cowley, who collaborated with the university on the study. “This research suggests that maybe those seeking to burn some calories should keep their eyes on the screen.”

While the study covered how horror movies can help a person burn off extra calories, researchers didn’t tackle how much weight a person could expect to lose after wandering through one of the many haunted houses sprinkled throughout the country this Halloween. If The Shining burns off 184 calories, then chances are a brisk walk through a local haunted attraction is going to reduce your waistline considerably.


Given the amount of candy that is expected to be consumed by countless individuals this Halloween, it may require quite a few viewings of their favorite horror movies to work off all of those miniature candy bars. According to the Chicago Tribune, the candy industry is estimated to earn around $2.4 billion this Halloween.

“Candy is a luxury, certainly, but it is a very affordable luxury,” explained Susan Whiteside, spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association. “Particularly when economic times are tough, the things that bring you a lot of happiness that don’t cost a lot of money tend to stay in your budget.”

This year alone, candy sales are expected to top $32 billion. If you intend to lose your Halloween weight by stuffing as many horror films inside your cranium as humanly possible, then you might want to start stocking up on those cheap Walmart genre collections while you still can.

All kidding aside, there’s a very strong possibility that your individual results will vary wildly from those obtained by researchers at the University of Westminster. If you really want to lose weight and burn calories from the large piles of Halloween candy you’ve consumed this year, then you’ll need to turn off the horror movies and get some exercise. After all, losing weight by sitting on the couch is simply too good to be true.

Do you believe the people can burn off a few calories by watching extremely scary horror films? Do you intend do some research of your own this Halloween?