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Get Your Heart in the Game

Posted by on October 19th, 2017 Posted in: Blog, Consumer Health, Fitness, Public Health


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“Tulane vs Georgetown; November 13, 09” by Albert Herring is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fall is a great season for sports fans. Baseball and soccer finish out their seasons and make way for hockey and football, both professional and college leagues. But those with risk of increased risk might need to be careful about how much they get into the game.

A recent study released in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology and covered by Time Magazine suggests that watching a sports game can affect your heart rate as much as playing in the game might. In the study, researchers measured the pulse of spectators viewing a Canadian hockey game, with half watching on TV and half live in the arena. The participants of the study had no history of heart disease and filled out a “fan passion” survey to determine investment in their team

The study found that heart rates were elevated by an average of 92% during the games, with an average of 75% increase for TV viewers and 110% average increase for attendees. This increase was sustained for more than 30 minutes, and was primarily caused by periods of high-intensity in the game.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the heart rate increase does not seem to be connected to gender or the measured level of “fan passion,” though researchers admitted possible issues with the survey used for that measurement.

The intense emotional stress experienced while watching a sports game can be dangerous for those at risk of a cardiovascular event, and the authors of the study advocate for added preventative measures, like having defibrillators available in sports venues. However, the authors also stress the importance of such an event to improving quality of life. So don’t worry about having to miss your favorite team’s next game; just make sure you’ve taken the proper precautions if you’re at risk!

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