Reasons Why Horror Movies Are Good for Your Health

Your parents always told you to hide your eyes during the scary parts, but it turns out that horror movies are good for your health!

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Turns out that your parents were wrong to ban scary films at your slumber parties because horror movies are good for your health. Yup. Stop covering your ears and hiding your eyes during the gory parts for the sake of your health. Some movies are worth getting scared by. A study put on by the University of Westminster uncovered results that suggest how much horror films can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. Turns out that scary movie aficionados probably are equipped to survive a zombie apocalypse than everyone else. See how horror can affect your life, and you might become a fan, too.

Horror movies are good for your health and your fight/flight response.

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Horror movies get your adrenal glands pumping overtime. The combination of danger and anticipatory suspense generated by the techniques horror movies use to scare you dig into your brain and triggers your fight or flight response. Do you stay and watch the action on the screen, or do you run from the danger as fast as possible? Stay! Keep watching. The energy boost you receive from the adrenaline pumping through your system is unbeatable—and it's all natural. Who needs Red Bull when you have Norman Bates and the thrill you feel every time you hear the Psycho theme song?

Scary scenes can lift depression.

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That adrenaline dump represents another way that horror movies are good for your health. Depressed people go through extreme decreases in their adrenaline levels. The adrenaline jumps achieved when they watch a horror can lift the depression and fill them with euphoria. Anxiety, sadness, and hopelessness are firmly pushed back to make room for the feel-good hormones and empathetic excitement caused by the actions on-screen.

Feeling afraid decreases anxiety.

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Similarly, horror films are healthy because they can treat your anxiety. No fake, Jake. Some folks who suffer from generalized or social anxiety actually use scary moves to medicate themselves—it's a drug-free cure! Not only does the plot distract you from your anxiety, but again, you get a rush of feel-good hormones because of the adrenaline flowing through you. After the adrenaline dump, there's a rush of serotonin that leaves you chill, even zen.

They teach you what not to do.

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Horror flicks act as cautionary tales warning you against potentially dangerous actions and behaviors. Sure, it's highly unlikely that your child's doll will become possessed by the soul of an executed murder, ala Child's Play, but didn't scary movies teach you not to pick up hitchhikers? Thanks to creepy movies that are based on true stories, you know never to climb the stairs in the dark or to get out of the car when it breaks down on an abandoned back road. You know to be kind to others so that no anonymous vigilantes try to teach you a lesson. 

Terrifying scenes desensitize you.

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Total desensitization isn't anyone's goal, yet it's one way that horror movies are good for your health. You don't want to stop empathizing with the pain of other people, after all. However, folks who have phobias or deep-seated fears can toughen up their defenses by watching a horror movie.

Scared of spiders? Help yourself to a dose of Arachnophobia, that ever-so-charming horror flick that features a small town—not unlike yours, maybe—becoming overrun by deadly South American spiders and the progeny they create with the same eight-legged critters weaving webs in your house right now. Terrified of clowns? It's time to meet Pennywise the Clown, either the early '90s Tim Curry version or the latest incarnation of the killer clown.

Confronting your fears on the screen requires bravery. Your heart rate will speed up and thud in your chest like a trip hammer. You'll sweat, your breathing will quicken, causing you to output more carbon dioxide, and you'll no doubt experience a fight or flight reflex. Fight, don't flee. Push through your fears.

Horror movies prepare you to fight.

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Your ancestors knew how to hunt and fight, not just for food but also for survival. Horror movies are good for your health because they teach you those lessons, as well. Horror films reveal the evils in the world. The responses they trigger do more than thrill you. They train your body, too. Dr. Mathias Clasen, a professor who specializes in horror and our reactions to it, posits that scary movies teach people who to deal with stressful or dangerous situations. See? You can prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse.

Watching horror flicks burns calories.

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Want to burn calories without heading to the gym? Pop in Texas Chainsaw Massacre or A Quiet Place instead of jumping on the stationary bike. Because of your body's reactions, it burns through energy when you go through the emotional roller coaster caused by a terrifying film. Watching The Shining burns calories like you wouldn't believe. By the time Jack freezes to death at the end, you can shed up to 184 calories. Jaws is good for 158 calories. Are you a fan of Ridley? A viewing of Alien gets rid of 152 calories. Who needs an exercise routine?

Terror boosts your immune system.

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Who would have thought that horror movies are good for your health to this extent? You see, after your system receives a jolt from the frightening, suspenseful scenes playing out before your eyes, it calms down and your brain releases serotonin, glutamate, and dopamine. In the calm after the storm, those hormones strengthen your immune system and keep your brain active. Even more than that, the activity of your white blood cell levels spikes significantly when you watch a horror flick. Your body sends in the troops to defend you against whatever is responsible for making your adrenaline pump.

Scary films are cathartic.

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Have you ever been so angry at someone that you wanted to pull a Hannibal Lecter? Has anyone ever made you mad enough that you felt like going all Jigsaw on them? It happens to everyone. The difference is that you have morals and ethics. You know this is real life and you can't act out that way. Sitting down to watch the action happen at the cinema or on your television screen provides a cathartic release. As the movie plays, the stress of your pent-up feelings will melt away and disappear.

Horror movies forge a connection.

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Last, but most definitely not least, horror movies are good for your health due to the connections they create. Watch a movie with your bestie or your boo, and the two of you end up huddled together on the couch, clinging to each other for support. The body almost always reacts positively to physical touch—even if you're just clutching someone for safety.

Now that you're aware that horror movies are good for your health, do you plan to watch them more often? Which scary movie is your favorite?

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Evelyn Starr
Evelyn Starr

Is a practicing Wiccan who applies her spiritualism to real life situations and advice, but also dabbles in dark fantasy. She lives in Oregon and spends most of her time casting spells in the woods.

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Reasons Why Horror Movies Are Good for Your Health
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