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Going to the cinema ‘counts as a light workout’

The big screen can have a positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing

Going to the cinema is equivalent to a light form of cardiovascular exercise, researchers have claimed.

The Vue-commissioned study of 51 people, who wore biometric sensors while they watched the 2019 live film adaptation of Aladdin, revealed a “noticeable increase” in their heart rates, which was in the healthy heart-zone (40-80%) for 45 minutes.

The University College London (UCL) researchers also found viewers’ heart rates became more closely aligned, often beating in unison, while skin conductance tests showed an increase in emotional arousal levels at points in the film.

They suggested the elements of watching a film – switching off from other distractions and participating in a shared group setting and cultural experience – can have positive effects on brain function and boost things like memory, focus, productivity, creativity, bonding with others and overall mood.

Dr Joseph Devlin, professor of cognitive neuroscience at UCL, said our ability to sustain focus and attention plays a critical role in building our mental resilience, because problem-solving typically requires a concentrated effort to overcome obstacles.

“In other words, our ability to work through problems without distraction makes us better able to solve problems and makes us more productive. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to step away from our devices, this level of sustained focus is good for us,” he added.