Shedding tears over Devdas or Titanic can pay dividends in the gym. Researchers at University of Oxford got people to do wall-sits-the squat equivalent of a plank–after watching sad movies. The idea was that endorphins released on crying would increase the subjects’ pain threshold. And sure enough, the study found that people who watched a sad film-Stuart: A Life Backwards, chronicling the life story of a disabled child abuse survivor who eventually kills himself–could hold a wall-sit 13.1% longer than volunteers who watched documentaries that were about far less emotive subjects. In other words, if you could hold a wall-sit for a minute initially, after the cathartic movie you would last out for a full eight seconds longer. Tearjerkers have another benefit: apparently, watching sad movies helps you bond with other people by bringing on good emotions.
Professor Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, said, “It seems that our affinity for emotive fiction may have evolved in the context of bonding social groups. As we have also seen this endorphin effect in laughter, singing and dancing, it seems storytelling is part of social activities that bring people together. This is not to say that this one chemical effect alone is the only reason for dramatic fiction, but we believe that it is an important reason for our enjoyment of fiction.”