The hidden benefit of watching Sports
A study published in the international journal ‘Frontiers in Autonomic Neuroscience’ on Sunday revealed that watching sports or people who are exercising increases your heart rate.
Researchers measured nine volunteers’ physiological responses while watching a 22-minute first person video of someone vigorously jogging. They found out that the volunteers’ heart rate, respiration, skin blood flow and sweat release all increased.
This was the first time researchers were able to show that muscle sympathetic nerve activity can increase when we watch physical activity.
Vaughan Macefield, the lead researcher from the School of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney, said ‘We know that the sympathetic nervous system – which supplies the heart, sweat glands and blood vessels, as well as other tissues – increases its activity during actual exercise.
‘Now we have shown that it increases when you are watching a moving scene as if you were running yourself.’
Rachel Brown, a co-researcher for the study, added ‘As the volunteers were sitting relaxed with no muscle activity it indicates that the responses were psychogenic – that is they originated from the mind and not the body.’
However, Macefield said that watching others exercise should not replace real exercise itself: ‘nothing can replace the health benefits of getting off the couch.’