As the UEFA Champions League final – the world’s biggest single game of soccer – approaches, fans couldn’t feel more excited if they were being driven around a Formula One circuit in a supercar by a professional racing driver.
Over the course of this season’s competition, Nissan has been working with Loughborough University on a series of experiments in an attempt to understand and quantify the levels of excitement that the beautiful game generates among its most ardent supporters. And some of its findings will come as a surprise.
When supporters, strapped up to vital-signs-monitoring equipment, watched a match live at the stadium, their average heartrate increased by 39% over the course of the 90-minute match, hitting an average of 91 beats per minute (BPM) and hitting an average 124BMP peak.
To put these results into some sort of context, the same test subjects were taken around the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium in the passenger seat of a Nissan GT-R being driven on the limit and their vitals again monitored.
Even in one of the fastest cornering cars currently on sale today, participants’ heartrates only increased on average by 37% and while the average peak heartrate was higher (136BPM verses 124BPM), average breathing rate and average peak breathing rate for both activities – 15 breaths per minute and 35 breaths per minute respectively – were identical for watching football and watching a Formula One circuit fly by from the passenger window.
“Throughout the two sets of experiments the heart rates of football fans and Nissan GT-R passengers were broadly comparable, with them increasing at peak moments as you would expect – such as when a goal was scored or driving round a tight corner,” said Dr. Dale Esliger of Loughborough University’s sports science department.
“The main differences we saw were the physiological responses of the passengers and football supporters breathing rates. During the football matches we saw breathing rate increasing followed by a reduction in breathing rate, as fans held their breath during key moments of anticipation, thus demonstrating their excitement journey across the course of 90 minutes is more of a rollercoaster of emotions.”
But while watching your team in a must-win Champions League fixture beats the spills and thrills of a track day experience, other types of driving can generate the same physical and mental sensations as partaking in extreme sports.
In 2013, Audi and MIT began work on a long-term study to catalogue and eventually mitigate the negative physical and mental impacts of driving in different everyday road conditions and found that in some situations, drivers’ heart and breathing rates were off the scale. “The data we received is fascinating. One study showed that getting side swiped by an oncoming car can be almost as stressful as jumping out of a plane,” said Filip Brabec, director of product management, Audi of America of the research. – AFP Relaxnews