The horror genre is obviously great for instilling lifelong phobias in little kids or giving your date an excuse to snuggle in closer during the scary bits. But did you know that all that terror can also do wonders for your waistline? So claims one recent study, which found that 90 minutes of a scary movie could burn as many calories as a half-hour walk.

I can’t promise you that the research is scientifically sound and peer reviewed and all that stuff, so you should take the results with a grain of salt. As far as excuses to go to skip the gym and catch up on American Horror Story instead, though, you could do way worse. Hit the jump to read more and find out exactly which titles offer the best non-workouts.

Brit movie rental service LOVEFiLM (via The Telegraph) commissioned a study from the University of Westminster to find how much energy people expended while watching various scary movies. Scientists monitored ten subjects’ heart rate, oxygen intake, and carbon dioxide output, and found those figures increased by an average of one-third during the films.

However, not all horror flicks were equally efficient at melting away the pounds. The biggest calorie-burners were the ones with scenes that made viewers “jump” with fright, like The Shining. Dr. Richard Mackenzie, senior lecturer at the Unviersity of Westminster, explained the effect:

Each of the ten films tested set pulses racing, sparking an increase in the heart rate of the case studies. Each of the ten films tested set pulses racing, sparking an increase in the heart rate of the case studies. As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the Basal Metabolic Rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.

LOVEFiLM editor Helen Cowley added that the study suggested we should try to be brave while watching horror movies if we’re really serious about losing weight: “We all know the feeling of wanting to hide behind the sofa or grab a pillow when watching scary or hair raising scenes, but this research suggests that maybe those seeking to burn some calories should keep their eyes on the screen.”

Here are the films to check out if you’d like to try and slim down through a strict regimen of sitting on the couch:

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

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