As spec­tator sports, Olympic events make hearts race and palms sweat as viewers vic­ar­i­ously expe­ri­ence the thrill of vic­tory and the agony of defeat. But can watching some of the world’s fittest ath­letes com­pete actu­ally make spec­ta­tors fitter? When people watch sports, even if they are sit­ting on the couch eating pop­corn, their brains and bodies respond in phys­ical ways, according to accu­mu­lating research. Unfor­tu­nately, those changes are unlikely to be extreme enough to accom­plish any muscle sculpting.

Instead, any poten­tial ben­e­fits lie in the inspi­ra­tion that comes from mar­veling over ath­letes who have ded­i­cated their lives to becoming the best they can be. Like New Year’s Eve, experts said, the Olympics give spec­ta­tors an oppor­tu­nity to start anew and make ath­letic res­o­lu­tions. And because the Games come around only once every four years in the midst of a 24-​​hour news cycle, they heighten our awe at what people can accom­plish when they train hard for years in rel­a­tive obscurity.

There’s some­thing amaz­ingly spe­cial and unique about the Olympics in terms of the whole aura of com­mit­ment, per­se­ver­ance, ded­i­ca­tion, training and the whole beauty of sport itself,” said Dan Lebowitz, exec­u­tive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston.

Read the article at Discovery News →