Going to the theatre can make your heart beat as fast as exercise

Swap a gym session for the theatre?

If you don’t fancy getting to the gym this week, how about grabbing almost half an hour of cardio at the theatre?

Researchers have shown heart rates of audiences at the theatre spent an average of 28 minutes beating at an elevated range of between 50% and 70% of their maximum heart rate.

The research, commissioned by Encore Tickets, was conducted by scientists from University College London and the University of Lancaster. The discovery about heart rate was found as part of a wider study into why people go to live theatre when they could stay at home and watch shows more easily.

Twelve individuals had their heart rates tracked during a performance of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre in London.

The British Heart Foundation identifies the level of heart rate achieved as the optimal heart rate to stimulate cardio fitness and stamina.

By the end of the first act, heart rates nearly doubled from their resting state at the beginning, while in the second act, they tripled. Researchers behind the study say comparable changes in heart rate can be seen in professional tennis players during bursts of highly intense exertion such as long and fast rallies.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should be giving up exercise, says Joseph T Devlin, professor of cognitive neuroscience at UCL.

“I hope no-one gives up their gym membership as a result of this research!” he said.

“Getting enough cardio-vascular exercise can be difficult, though, so it’s great to see that going to a show like Dreamgirls can help supplement the cardiovascular work your heart does the rest of the week.”

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