I think it’s fair to say the large majority of us enjoy going to the movies. Being able to watch the newest flick everyone is buzzing about on the big screen can allow you to escape this crazy world for a few hours and be a fun, thrilling or down right terrifying experience (in a good way… depending on the movie).

But did you know that your night out at the movies may be setting you back when it comes to your fitness goals? Shocking right? That might not come as a huge surprise, but it might be more impactful then you previously thought. Well have no fear, content reader, I’m hear to be your superhero today and give you a few tips and tricks on how to make your night out at the movies as fun, and healthy as possible.

Let’s assess the dangers first:

1. Food/Drink
This is the more obvious danger of attending your favorite Cinema, yet one of the most tempting. When you think of the movie theatre you think of that sweet smell of fresh popcorn and have memories of washing that salty, buttery popcorn with a nice cold soda pop. Now that is the biggest trap of them all, it’s not unusual for theatres to vent out the air from their lobby outside the front doors so you immediately begin to think and crave popcorn base off the smell, and memory receptors. Remember the story of Pavlov’s Dog? It’s kind of the same thing. Keep in mind; movie theatres make a large majority of their money off of concession sales (up to 85% of their revenue!) so they want you to buy that popcorn!
“But I thought popcorn isn’t that bad for you”

Well kind reader, you’re not wrong there but it’s all in moderation, and how it’s prepared. Air-Popped Popcorn with light salt and light butter will be fine at home. A large popcorn at your old movie house however, can pack up to 1200 calories if you decide to have butter… add in a large pop and you’re going to be taking in over 1500 calories in a sitting. That is a whole days worth of calories for most people in the span of about 2 hours! I don’t think I need to say much about the candies at the films; I will only remind everyone that these candies are pure sugar, will spike your insulin (not good) and if not used by the body almost immediately, will begin to be stored as body fat (also not good).

Some Cinema’s will have more full meals available for purchase, but those will only do more damage than any good. With calories ranging from about 500-900 per meal item, and each one with a skyrocketing 1000mg+ of Sodium. One of the best bets you’d have is to go for the Chicken Tenders for about 350 calories (yet they still have 14g of fat, 30g of carbs to go along with the 26g of protein).
(Source: https://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/FoodAndDrink & http://business.time.com/2009/12/07/movie-theaters-make-85-profit-at-concession-stands/)

2. Non-activity
What can I say? There is nothing healthy about being seated for long periods of times. The average film length has steadily increased by a small percentage since the 1980’s with the average film clocking in over 120 minutes or 2 hours long. While the movies themselves really aren’t getting dramatically longer, the time we spend in the old film house has. Think back to the last time you rushed into a movie, thinking your late because your ticket said 7:30 and you got there at 7:35, yet you come in to still be watching TV ads… then movie trailers (about 3-5 per movie) THEN we get to the actual movie. While your movie “starts” at 7:30, it really starts at about 7:45, maybe even 8 if you get a big budget blockbuster.
(Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/are-movies-getting-longer-2016-6)

Combine the almost 1500 calories people will consume during their cinematic experience, with the nearly 2.5 hours of staying seated (unless you REALLY have to go pee) makes for quiet the toxic environment for trying to lose body fat or gain muscle.

3. Posture Wrecker
Newer Theater’s will have seats that allow you to lean back, to enjoy your movie in the most comfortable position possible, however the most comfortable position is typically the worst for your posture.
This position will cause people to slouch, which will create more strain on the lower back, a rounded upper back, which can lead to shoulder and rotator cuff injuries, and reduce blood flow throughout the body. Being able to sit in proper posture (if you’re reading this I’m sure a few of you propped yourself up just now.. good start!) with the shoulders rolled back, feet flat on the floor, butt back in the seat and arms being able to relax by your sides is how we want to be seated for long periods of time.

So those are the 3 main issues you’ll have when you go on your next movie date, so what can you do about them? Well, I have you covered!

1. Eat before you go
Have a homemade meal or snack prior to going to the movie. Having something to eat will lower your hunger cravings and ensure you don’t overeat or crave the food at the movies.

2. Stay hydrated
Many people will avoid drinking water prior to the movie because they do not want to have to run to the washroom, but staying hydrated will once again reduce the feeling of hunger you may have but it also ensures your body is digesting food properly, ensuring that your body is still getting a proper nutrient distribution, blood flows easier, prevents headaches and keeps your muscles fluid so when you stand up, you’re less likely to have muscle soreness from being seated.
Bonus tip: Take smaller sips of your water during the movie to prevent having to rush to the washroom and missing your movie!

3. Enjoy yourself… in moderation
Again, the popcorn you’re getting at the movie isn’t as healthy as the air-popped stuff you make at home. BUT that doesn’t mean you have to completely stay away from it, but keep moderation in mind and order the smaller sizes. Having a small popcorn will still have 400 calories, but if you avoid butter, it’s going to be a better alternative then your other options. I would recommend completely avoiding any soft drinks, as the liquid calories & sugar content will absorb much quicker and be much more damaging. If you’re looking for a different alternative, most movie theatres will have Vitamin Water available, that will be slightly flavored and keep you hydrated.

4. Plan your day and do some P.A.
When you’re planning on seeing the latest, greatest that Hollywood (or Bollywood if that’s your thing) has to offer make sure you plan your day. If you’re going to be seated for 2 hours (or more) you should really plan on going for a walk, run, swim or workout at some point throughout the day to make up for that inactivity. Keep the blood flowing and get a nice sweat on so you can enjoy the movie that much more.

5. Sit up..and Sit Right!
As I mentioned before the posture we use as we are sitting in the big comfy chairs can cause a lot of different postural issues. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the slouching trap. Sit up right, but also constantly remind yourself to keep your core tight, and engage your glutes throughout the movie (bum squeeze!). This can help prevent hip or lower back pain. Avoid putting your feet up on a chair or crossing your legs as that puts the hips and hip flexors in a more damaging position.

Well, that’s all folks! There are 5 tips for you to survive and thrive during your next movie going experience. Don’t avoid going out to the movies, everyone needs to enjoy life and not have to hide from fun situations. With a little pre-planning and willpower you’ll knock it out of the park and see great results moving forward!

In Summery: – Stick to smaller popcorn sizes- Avoid Pop- Be prepared and eat before- Stay hydrated- Plan a workout- Sit up straight
Questions? Comment Below!

Rich Hill

CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer

RK Athleticshttps://linktr.ee/RK_Athletics