W

hy do we like to be frightened? It's a tad counterintuitive—fear isn't generally seen as a positive emotion—but still we voluntarily ride on rollercoasters, visit haunted houses and watch scary movies. All of these are designed to elicit a fear response, and while we try to avoid frightening situations in real life, many of us will gladly pay for the privilege of being frightened under controlled circumstances. Fear gets our juices flowin,' makes our hearts beat faster, and makes us feel alive. 

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Poster for the Spanish horror film [Rec], which will help you burn 101 calories, although most of those are from reading the subtitles.

Now we have yet another reason to make ourselves feel scared. A study out of the University of Westminster in the UK has shown that watching horror movies actually burns calories.

The researchers had their subjects watch a variety of horror movies while measuring their vital signs: heart rate, oxygen intake, carbon dioxide output, and calories burned.

Not surprisingly, people watching scary movies experienced adrenaline surges and stress, things that burn a high level of calories.

According to this study, the top calorie-burning horror films were:

1. The Shining—184 calories 
2. Jaws—161 calories 
3. The Exorcist—158 calories 
4. Alien—152 calories 
5. Saw —133 calories 
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street—118 calories 
7. Paranormal Activity—111 calories 
8. The Blair Witch Project—105 calories 
9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre—107 calories 
10. [Rec]—101 calories

It's an interesting study, even if the results are not all that surprising. We wish that researchers would look into a few other genres with an eye toward health and well-being.

• How many calories are burned watching XXX movies?
• How many calories are added watching sports?
• How many IQ points are lost watching reality TV?