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Published on: 31-Oct-2023

After you reach for a bite-size Snickers or Twix bar from the trick-or-treat stash, reach for the remote. A startling study shows that watching a 90-minute horror movie can burn close to 200 calories equivalent to a small chocolate bar or the amount burned through a 30-minute walk or light workout.

The study, conducted by specialists in cell metabolism and physiology at Westminster University, found that films with the most suspense and startling, scary moments were most likely to help burn calories because they increase pulse and heart rates dramatically. Physiologically, as the pulse quickens, blood pumps through the body faster and a surge of adrenaline increases the basal metabolic rate and burns calories.

While the study was neither peer reviewed nor formally published, it offers quasi-scientific justification to curl up in front of the TV (at least on Halloween weekend) and watch a horror flick. After that, it’s probably best to keep your hands out of the Halloween candy and get back to the gym!

Here’s the top ten energy-burning, scary movies according to the study:

  1. The Shining (184 calories)
  2. Jaws (161 calories)
  3. The Exorcist (158 calories)
  4. Alien (152 calories)
  5. Saw (133 calories)
  6. Nightmare on Elm Street (118 calories)
  7. Paranormal Activity (111 calories)
  8. The Blair Witch Project (105 calories)
  9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (107 calories)
  10. [Rec] (101 calories)

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center


The Telegraph. (2012).  Watching Horror Films Burns Nearly 200 Calories a Time.