MINNEAPOLIS – Success with stress. The two have gone hand in hand for the Minnesota Vikings and their fans this season.
Each win often takes a toll on the purple and gold faithful. So how do Vikings games impact fans’ health? And can they do anything to relax while watching?
How would you describe this Vikings season so far?
“If you’re talking stress, there is a lot of it,” said fan Barry Smith.
“Stressing out, pacing back and forth, watching the game,” added Shane Goodmanson.
Loyalty to the purple and gold this season comes with a price some fans can’t always pay – like Wyatt Crowell’s dad.
“Sometimes he’ll turn it off because he thinks that it’s his fault that they’re losing or whatever,” Crowell said.
Some fans scream at the TV at the top of their lungs like Smith, to the point he worries about his blood pressure. Even teenagers feel the same struggle.
“I was like ‘dude this is too much for me, I can’t deal with all this,'” Goodmanson said after attending the game against the Colts last Saturday. “At 17 years old I can’t deal with all these heart problems.”
As a fan himself, Dr. Kevin Harris understands.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” Harris said.
But as a cardiologist, he worries about the stress caused from each nail-biting Vikings victory.
“It’s a real phenomena that people can have cardiac events related to a sporting event,” he said. “We know that severe mental stress, just like severe physical exertion, has an effect on the heart.”
Your heart rate will increase, blood pressure rises, and blood vessels thin. Those effects likely subside when a game ends, but can take a toll on someone with heart problems or a family history of them.
So, how do you determine if this stress you’re feeling is worthy of going to the doctor?
“If you find that it’s having an adverse effect on you, you’re having chest pain, your heart is racing … this is a repetitive pattern, like we’ve had a number of Vikings games that have been super exciting this year. You’re feeling that, I think that’s something you talk to you doctor about,” Dr. Harris said.
To lower your stress while watching, Dr. Harris gave these tips:
For some fans, it’s only when they turned the game off that the Vikings comeback often started.
“And in general, the studies have shown that the losses are way harder to take for people than the victories,” Dr. Harris said.
While it can be good to get your heart rate up, Dr. Harris would prefer Vikings fans do that through exercising and not just watching the games.