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BOO! Cardiologist Says Getting A Good Scare Can Come With Health Benefits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Halloween is full of spooky encounters and uncontrollable screams, but did you know that giving yourself a good scare comes with some health benefits?

This is the season of the scare.

"I've grown to like it more. I didn't really like it when I was younger, but now, like, I appreciate a good scary movie," one person said.

Our bodies all have different reactions to being scared.

"I get tense. I sweat," one man said.

But what if those reactions aren't all bad?

"How is fear healthy for us?" CBS2's Steve Overmyer asked cardiologist Dr. Nidhi Kumar.

"When you are scared for a short period of time, your body releases endorphins. Your body releases dopamine. Your heart rate speeds up. Oxygen and blood flow to your muscles and you get pumped up and you actually feel energized," Kumar said.

It's not just the surge of energy, but also a relaxation response, which triggers euphoria.

"The scare is not real, that there really isn't a zombie chasing after me," Overmyer said.

"Well, you need to know that going into [a haunted house]. I hope you know that going into it," Kumar said.

"Well, sometimes they're pretty believable," Overmyer said.

Short scare bursts can have positive impacts, like strengthening the immune system.

"When your body gets that surge of stress, you release antioxidants and those fight cellular damage, so it can be incredibly healthy that way," Kumar said.

In that moment, consumed by fear, we become more alert and sharper.

When we're scared, we also release the hormone oxytocin, which can help us feel closer to those around us.

Kumar does caution against scaring anyone with heart conditions.

"But if you are a young, healthy person this Halloween season, it might be worth to visit a haunted house, go out and get a little scared," she said.

Doctor's orders -- the tricks are better than the treats.

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