Good omen… How horror films can be good for your health and REDUCE stress

  •  Cult horror classics such as The Shining release powerful chemicals, study says 

Though they may make your heart race, the jumps and flinches horror films cause could be good for your health, experts have claimed.

Tense scenes in cult horror classics such as The Shining and The Exorcist release powerful chemicals in the brain known for reducing stress, according to a study.

Doctor Kristen Knowles, neuropsychologist at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, said horror flicks help produce endorphins and dopamine – chemicals linked to happiness and stress relief.

She told The Herald: ‘Researchers have found that watching horror can improve pain tolerance due to endorphin production.

Tense scenes in cult horror classics such as The Shining (pictured) and The Exorcist release powerful chemicals in the brain known for reducing stress, according to a study

Tense scenes in cult horror classics such as The Shining (pictured) and The Exorcist release powerful chemicals in the brain known for reducing stress, according to a study

Horror movies provide a safe way for people to explore being frightened because in films ¿the objects of fear are more simplistic than in real life¿. Pictured, a scene from The Exorcist

Horror movies provide a safe way for people to explore being frightened because in films ‘the objects of fear are more simplistic than in real life’. Pictured, a scene from The Exorcist  

‘The body’s response to fear or suspense is to ramp up production of stress hormones, such as adrenalin, which mobilise your body’s energy resources.

‘This is paired with increased heart rate and focused attention. 

‘This can all feel rather exhilarating when that tension is released at the end of the film.

‘Doing this safely can feel good simply because it is thrilling – consider skydiving as a similar activity which is frightening but also euphoric.’

Endorphins are used by the body to make us feel pleasure and reward. 

They are produced by the brain when eating and exercising but also when the body feels pain or stress, such as during a jump-scare horror movie.

Dr Knowles added that horror movies provide a safe way for people to explore being frightened because in films ‘the objects of fear are more simplistic than in real life’.

She added: ‘Through this safe interaction, we can learn to cope with negative emotions and develop resilience to fear and stress.’

Her thoughts are supported by a 2012 study from the University of Westminster which showed that viewing a 90 minute horror movie and enjoying a short walk burned the same amount of calories.

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