Cheering on Your Favorite Team May Harm Your Heart
Watching sports can stress the heart as much as playing in the game, suggests a small study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. Researchers discovered that pulse rates rise by 75 percent in people watching a hockey game on television and 110 percent in people watching a game in person – increases equal to heart stress from vigorous exercise.
Prior research suggests a link between watching sporting events and heart attack and sudden death risk, especially in spectators with existing heart disease. This new study involved 20 adults in Montreal with no history of heart disease. Study participants provided general health information and filled out a questionnaire to determine how invested they were in their local National Hockey League (NHL) team. Then, researchers monitored their heart rates while watching the Montreal Canadiens play on TV or in an arena.
According to the researchers, the heart rates of participants watching the game on television stayed above the threshold for moderate physical activity for about 39 minutes; the heart rates of those watching in person stayed above this threshold for 72 minutes and above the vigorous-activity threshold for almost 13 minutes. This effect could increase risk for cardiovascular issues in fans with heart disease.