With hockey season now officially underway, here’s something to take to heart: a new study suggests the excitement of watching one’s favourite team, either live or on TV, can have a profound effect on the cardiovascular system. 20 healthy Montreal Canadiens fans, aged 23 to 63, were recruited for the study by the Montreal Heart Institute. They were all outfitted with a wearable cardiac monitor known as a Holter, which records a person’s heart rhythm “every second, beat by beat.” Half were asked to watch the regular season games at home on TV, while the other half were monitored while attending a live game. What the researchers found was that both groups experienced a rise in heart rate. Those watching on TV had an average heart rate increase of 75 per cent, while those attending a live game saw an average spike in their heartbeats of 110 per cent! Here’s a pie chart to explain how various elements of the game increase heart rate.
Now you might argue that the study involved fans of the Montreal Canadiens… who are known to be ‘enthusiastic’, but the study also looked at “fan passion scores,” a measure of the emotional attachment to a team, to see if it influenced heart rate during a game. They found no correlation.
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