Watching sports can absolutely spike your heart rate

Leslie Hanson
October 6, 2017

The results should encourage doctors to speak to their patients about watching sports, the researchers noted.

Although fan passion score was unable to predict heart rate responses, researchers found that spectators of the sport via television had an average of 75 percent increase in their heart rates, while live spectators experienced a whopping 110 percent bump in their heart rates.

Additional studies, as referenced by the authors of the new paper, have shown that during soccer championships, the incidence of heart attacks increases dramatically.

A new research finds evidence of heart stress related to watching hockey and other sporting events.

"Viewing a hockey game can be the source of an intense emotional stress, as manifested by marked increases in heart rate", added Paul Khairy, Professor at the University of Montreal in Canada.

Dr. Khairy and his colleagues examined 20 healthy men and women aged 18 and over.

Prior to the study, participants were asked to fill in a general health questionnaire and to indicate how passionately they supported the team they were about to watch play. Though they are not by all means being advised to stop watching hockey games, being aware of the possibilities could save them from negative cardiovascular events. Participants' heart rates stayed above the threshold for moderate physical activity for about 39 minutes when watching a game on television.

But a new study reveals that spectators experience significantly elevated heart rates, equivalent to rates with vigorous exercise, while watching hockey games live or on TV.

The study also found that such peaks in heart rate occurred more frequently than expected. The second-most-stressful time for fans was during scoring opportunities by the Canadiens, followed by the opposing team's attempts to put the puck in the net. "Therefore, the results have important public health implications", he continued.

However, they concede that "it remains to be determined whether the observed stress response translates into an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes on a population level".

Sporting events are quite exciting, and hockey is one that does not lack in excitement.

But further research is needed to determine "whether preventive strategies are warranted in susceptible individuals", Khairy concluded.

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