Yet another great reason to not want to miss a single game this season and the ones that follow. Watching football, scientists have discovered, is good to health as it boosts both cardiovascular and psychological well-being.
Researchers from the University of Leeds analyzed 25 fans of Leeds United over three Championship games and found that during match days, supporters’ heart rates shot up by around 64 per cent, with some peaking at 130 beats per minute (bpm).
With a normal resting heart rate averaging between 60 and 100 bpm, scientists now claim that watching football is equivalent to going on a brisk walk for an hour-and-a-half.
In the study, it was also noted that watching their team win also reduced fans’ blood pressure and gave them a ‘psychological boost’ that could last all day.
Seeing their club lose however, had the opposite effect and fans faced an emotional decline that one compared to ‘a friend dying’.
Lead author of the study, Dr Andrea Utley, explained the findings: ‘It was clear fans were passionate about the game with heart rate elevated during the match to a similar level to that when going for a brisk walk (generally 20 per cent higher than resting heart rate).’
‘A goal for either team caused a brief increase in heart rate of an average of 20bpm from the match average.
‘Ultimately, supporting your team at a football match gives you a moderate cardiovascular workout and depending on the result of the match, a psychological boost or slump.’
The researchers, who worked alongside BetVictor, analysed Leeds United fans, aged between 20 and 62, during three key games in the 2018/19 Championship season.
Their heart rates were monitored before and after each match, as well as during half time and it was recorded that their heart rates increased to a high of 130bpm- 64 per cent more than at the start.
A Leeds goal rose their heart rates by an average of 27 per cent, while watching their opponents score increased it by 22 per cent.
Fans on the winning side also saw their blood pressure go down after the match, while ‘losers’ experienced temporary hypertension after their defeat.
‘There is good stress and there is bad stress and there’s a level of arousal which is actually good for you and the level of arousal that takes you over the edge,’ Dr Utley continued.
‘Although people think watching football takes you over the edge, it doesn’t.
‘We found it just kept people at a good level of arousal.’