Eduardo Rivero/shutterstockIt’s certainly exciting to attend a live theater performance. Whether you’re waiting for the curtain to rise for a famous Broadway production (perhaps one of these musicals you definitely should have heard by now) or enjoying a performance starring local thespians, the tales told onstage can be memorable and moving. Audience favorites, including the much beloved Hamilton, can cause one to feel a range of emotions and, in turn, can set their hearts racing. According to new research, the cardiovascular response that we feel during a performance is actually beneficial for our bodies.
Findings of a study from researchers at the University College London, University of Lancaster, and Encore Tickets indicate that watching a musical performance causes a heart response that’s equal to that of a half-hour workout, Cardiovascular Business reported.
For the study, researchers monitored the heart rates, brain activity, and physiological signals of 12 seated volunteers during a production of the musical Dreamgirls. Participants were reported to have spent 28 minutes with a heart rate between 50 and 70 percent of its maximum, which is the ideal rate for “stimulating cardio fitness and stamina,” the study said. This means that although the participants were seated and watching a performance, their body essentially went through 28 minutes of healthy cardio activity. Talk about a way to burn calories without really trying!
Participants’ heart rates were at their highest peaks just before the beginning of the intermission and at the show’s conclusion. Researchers believe the heightening and lowering of heart rates indicate the “surge of deep emotion and energy seen on stage.”
“This demonstration paints quite a clear picture that attending a live performance has an impact on cardiovascular activity,” Joseph Devlin, Ph.D, head of experimental psychology at University College London told Encore Tickets. “By the end of the first act, heart rates nearly doubled from their resting state at the beginning, while in the second act, it tripled. You see comparable changes in heart rate in professional tennis players during burst of highly intense exertion such as long and fast rallies.”
Experts also attribute the heightened heart rates to the emotion of seeing a performance in a crowded room, surrounded by an audience. Dr. Devlin notes that being in a live audience increases the emotional intensity of the theater-going experience.
Based on the results of their findings, researchers said that the frequently changing moods and dynamics of a theater performance allow an audience member to go through a “range of emotions that can stimulate the heart and induce heart rate activity that is parallel to an exerting cardio workout.” Now, you have two reasons to check out the next musical that comes to town: getting a workout and learning these hidden lessons from beloved Broadway shows.