American critic, Frank Rich, called the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls a ‘seismic emotional jolt that sends the audience, as one, right out of its wits’.
35 years later, that emotional jolt has now been proven by a team of research scientists, at a live performance of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End.
A new scientific study has found that Dreamgirls is as good for your heart as half an hour of cardio exercise. The research, conducted by University College London in association with Encore Tickets, monitored the heart rates, brain activity, and other physiological signals of 12 individuals at a live theatre performance of the Tony and Olivier-Award winning musical, and the results were incredible.
During the performance, the heartrates of audience members spent an average of 28 minutes beating at an elevated range between 50% - 70% of their maximum heart rate. The British Heart Foundation identify this level of heartrate as the optimal heart rate to stimulate cardio fitness and stamina. So, although they were seated for the performance, audience members spent an average of 28 minutes engaged in healthy cardio exercise.
Dr Joseph Devlin, Head of Experimental Psychology at University College London, says: “This demonstration paints quite a clear picture that attending a live performance has an impact on cardiovascular activity”.
“By the end of the first act, heart rates nearly doubled from their resting state at the beginning, while in the second act, it tripled. You see comparable changes in heart rate in professional tennis players during burst of highly intense exertion such as long and fast rallies.”
Having witnessed night after night of standing ovations and overwhelming audience response, we always knew this incredibly joyous production was good for the heart – now we know it’s contributing to your health too!
 Fernandez, J., Mendez‐Villanueva, A. & Pluim, BM. (2006) Intensity of tennis match play. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(5): 387–391.
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