A Live Soccer Match Between Puppies Was Streamed During the World Cup to Reduce Stress

Last week England’s soccer team fought for their first quarter-final World Cup match since the 2006 tournament in Germany. As a way to fight the stress and health risks associated with the high stakes game, doctors have prescribed puppies as the antidote.

British medical professionals joined forces with pet food company Freshpet to live stream a soccer match between young English bulldogs, led by Harry Kanine, and Maltese Bichons. Freshpet streamed the 90-minute puppy soccer match on their Facebook page and website at 2 p.m. EST, the same time England played Colombia in the World Cup.

Health experts streamed the doggy soccer match to help relieve some of the soccer game-incited health risks such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.

British physician Jeff Foster explained to Reuters that for many people, feeling the emotion and the hormonal and neurochemical response is exhilarating, but for those with certain existing medical problems, these changes can pose a real risk to their health.

The connection between heart risk and soccer fandom has long been studied. Watching soccer matches can elevate blood pressure and heart rate to potentially dangerous levels, British researchers found. In their study, spectators’ heart rates reached maximum levels when their team scored a goal and could remain elevated for as long as 90 minutes, proof that the emotional stress of watching sports can take a physiological toll.

In extreme cases, sports-inflicted stress can be fatal, especially during the World Cup. A Swiss study discovered that heart attack deaths increased by 60 percent during the 2002 World Cup compared to one year earlier. In 2006, the rate of cardiac emergencies in men was over three times higher during the World Cup, and almost all of cardiac arrests happened on days patients’ favourite teams played.

Although the British game hopefully won’t stop anyone’s heart, Foster said it’s probable that die-hard fans will have increased stress.

Thus, the “power of cute” may be the best remedy: watching videos of animals such as birds and primates reduced blood pressure and heart rate in a 2005 study, and Japanese researchers discovered that exposure to images of puppies and kittens narrowed participants’ focus and enabled them to concentrate on the task they were performing.

References: https://bit.ly/2u0rASH

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Image Credit: Alex Kravtsov / Shutterstock

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