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Fitness & Health

13th Aug 2019

Watching football is good for you, according to new study

Scientists discovered that watching football was equivalent to a moderate cardiovascular workout (such as a 90-minute brisk walk)

Alex Roberts

Those involved in the study were probably not Sunderland fans

According to new research, watching football is good for your health. Hard to believe, if you’ve just watched your team plummet to successive relegations, but food for thought nonetheless.

Scientists discovered that watching football was equivalent to a moderate cardiovascular workout (such as a 90-minute brisk walk). Other observed benefits of watching football include the lowering of blood pressure (after a team win) and a boost to psychological mood.

The study analysed 25 football fans aged between 20 and 62. It was found that:

  • The ‘positive stress’ from elevated heart rates was similar to a moderate cardiovascular workout – a positive health benefit.
  • Watching your team win also resulted in the lowering of blood pressure.
  • Psychologically, a win was found to improve mood for a period of 24 hours, while a loss resulted in an extended period of low mood and depression. Football fans are likely addicted to the ‘highs’ associated with winning.
  • The longer fans had supported their club, the greater the accompanying physiological and psychological effects.

Over the course of the three games, average heartrates increased to as much as 130 BPM (up 64% on the average). This elevation in heartrate is known as ‘positive stress’ and is a cardio workout similar to a brisk walk.

The impact of watching football on your heart

Watching football therefore seems to be good for your health, due to raising your cardiovascular system above its resting rate.

Dr. Andrea Utley, Reader in Motor Control and Development at the University of Leeds said:

“It was clear that fans were passionate about the game with heart rate elevated during the match to a similar level to that when going for a brisk walk (generally 20% higher than resting heart rate).

“A goal for either team caused a brief increase in heart rate of an average of 20bpm from the match average.

“Ultimately supporting your team at a football match gives you a moderate cardiovascular workout and depending on the result of the match, a psychological boost or slump.”

Sinking seven pints of lager to quash pre-match nerves? This may not provide any noticeable benefits. However, these findings are proof that supporting a successful side really could be good for you.

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