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Watching Sports Increases Your Heart Rate Like Exercise

Friends cheering while watching sports on television
Photograph by Getty Images/Creatas RF

We're knee-deep in football season, which means plenty of time spent on the couch devouring wings, chips, soda and beer. Before you start feeling guilty about overdoing it, you'll want to hear this: Watching sports gets your heart pumping, just like it would if you were actually out on the field.

According to a new study, just sitting and watching sports gets your heart rate up. Once activities cease, your heart rate slows, just like it would if you were exercising.

Researchers at the University of Western Sydney showed a video of a person exercising to participants and found that their heart rate and breathing increased. Of course, the changes were small and not nearly as substantial as if you were actually exercising.

In other words, don't cancel your gym membership or tell your spouse you already worked out (it involved a rousing set of lifting chips to your mouth). A professor at the university noted, "‘While watching other people exercise may increase your heart rate and have other physiological effects, nothing can replace the health benefits of getting off the couch."

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