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Can Watching Movies Be Good for You?

By Kate Gardner

I wrote last month about the amazing brain-health benefits of learning to play an instrument. I love the idea that we can do something really enjoyable and have it also be good for us. It got me thinking: Are there other things we can do to improve our health that aren't exercising, taking supplements, or eating certain foods? This month, let's take a look at one of my favorite pastimes -- watching movies!

The Good Stuff

I'm not the first person to wonder if we might enjoy health benefits while we enjoy a good movie. Researchers across the globe have investigated movies and how they affect us emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

  • Pain control - Movies appear to be useful in controlling pain. In one study, published in Complementary Medicine Research, researchers wanted to see if watching a comedy could help patients control pain and anxiety after surgery. Patients reported their anxiety and pain levels, then one group watched a funny movie while the other group did not. Afterward, the group of patients who watched the movie reported a bigger decrease in their anxiety and pain than did the other group. 

  • Anxiety - Movies may be helpful in reducing anxiety in certain situations. Hospitals are always looking for ways to ease the worry of family members who are waiting during a loved one's surgery. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research examined whether watching a movie could help. And indeed, it did! Families who were waiting during surgery reported less anxiety after watching a movie. 

The Bad Stuff 

Unfortunately, watching movies isn't all roses and sunshine. There are times when doing so may have a negative impact on our health and decision-making. 

  • Decision making - It may not come as a surprise that movies can influence how we make decisions, especially for adolescents. One study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests kids who watch movies where alcohol is consumed may be more likely to drink themselves. On a similar note, research reported in Addiction suggests that kids who watch movies with smoking may be more likely to smoke. 

  • Heart health - It makes sense that watching a really scary movie can make your heart beat fast. Research in Stress showed that this true. Watching a horror movie can increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as other markers that can be bad for heart health. 

It can be a lot of fun to look at the research on how movies affect our health, but whether you love romantic comedies or the grossest of horror movies, you're probably safe to keep enjoying them. Make sure to talk to kids about the movies they're watching and consult a healthcare provider if you're concerned your heart may not be up to the latest scary movie. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Flower Mound, Tex. 

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