When you think of unhealthy holidays, Halloween may be one of the first to come to mind. With all the high-sugar, empty-calorie treats around, it’s not hard to imagine why. But, believe it or not, celebrating Halloween can actually offer several health benefits.
Here are six reasons why indulging in the ghoulish holiday may not be as unhealthy as you think.
- Some sweets can be healthy - We can agree that most Halloween treats are very unhealthy, but not all of these goodies are necessarily bad for you. For example, dark chocolate offers health benefits when eaten in moderation. Additionally, peppermint can aid in gastrointestinal pain relief, while chewing gum can reduce stress and improve mood.
- Sneaky physical activity - You might not realize how much activity one gets on a fun Halloween night. Walking door to door with children is somewhat of a workout. Researchers have shown that just a short walk can increase blood and oxygen circulation, reduce fatigue and enhance energy.
- Scary movies can spur metabolism - In a 2012 study at the University of Westminster, researchers found that watching scary movies burn calories. When watching scary movies, the body releases adrenaline, producing short bursts of stress and a decrease in appetite. Some movies that are the "Top 10 Calorie-Burning Horror Movies" include The Shining (184 calories), Jaws (161 calories), The Exorcist (158 calories) and Saw (133 calories).
- Socializing boosts brain and immune health - Halloween includes many social-heavy activities. From pumpkin carvings, haunted hay rides and trick or treating, these activities are shown to have positive effects on the immune system and cognitive health.
- Strong social bonds increase longevity - Researchers have shown that those who have strong, meaningful social connections tend to be happier, have fewer health problems and have longer lifespans. Be sure to celebrate this holiday with friends and family this year!
- Small retail splurges reduce stress - Shopping for a costume has proven to be a great stress reliever. Retail therapy, restricted to small splurges, reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Overall, researchers found that 82% of shoppers who purchase unintended "self-treats" have shown improved moods.