FROM sinking a pint of lager to screaming at the TV screen – you might not think watching football would be any good for your health.
Wrong – new research has shown that watching football is actually good for you – and yes, that even includes Sunderland fans.
Scientists discovered that watching the sport is actually the equivalent to a moderate cardiovascular workout, like a 90-minute brisk walk.
Their survey analysed 25 Leeds fans aged between 20 and 62 and it found that over the course of three games, average heart-rates increased to as much as 130 BPM (up 64 per cent on the average).
This elevation in heart-rate is known as ‘positive stress’ and is a cardio workout similar to a brisk walk.
The study also revealed that watching a team win can significantly lower blood pressure – which lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke – as well as boost your mental health.
And the longer fans had supported their club, the greater the accompanying physiological and psychological effects.
Dr Andrea Utley, at the University of Leeds said: “There is good stress and there is bad stress and there’s a level of arousal which is actually good for you and the level of arousal that takes you over the edge.
“Although people think watching football takes you over the edge, it doesn’t.
“We found it just kept people at a good level of arousal.”
Despite this, watching your team lose can have the opposite effect, as a loss is shown to result in an extended period of low mood or depression.
The footie fans involved in the study filled out a short mood survey before and after each game which revealed just how hard a loss can hit supporters.
On a high
When their team won, they said they experienced “an absolute high” with the euphoria lasting a day, however, when their team lost, the slump was “actually be quite severe”.
One of the participants said watching his team lose a match felt like a “low hum”.
They said in a focus group after the game: “That disappointment of Friday meant that the first thing I thought of when I woke up on Saturday morning was, ‘I don’t believe we lost that game.
“That sort of sets the mood for the rest of that morning until you can pull yourself out of it.”
Another participant went as far as saying the loss felt like “a friend has died.”
Most read in health
Dr Utley added: “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 per cent 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.”
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