First dates as thrilling as jumping out of a plane

By Simon Penfold | Attractions | Published: | Last Updated:

Brits find the thrill of a first date as adrenaline inducing as jumping out of a plane, according to scientific research carried out by the University of Wolverhampton.

The research was prompted by the Bear Grylls Adventure, the new attraction from Alton Towers owner Merlin, which is being built at the NEC and due to open this year.

The attraction team, in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, found that the average heart rate while indoor skydiving was 111 BPM (beats per minute), almost identical to that of a blind date experience –106 BPM – which they say proves the excitement of a romantic encounter is the same as freefalling.

The research by the university cardiology department put participants through a number of thrilling experiences including indoor skydiving, a zip wire course, and a first date while wearing heart rate monitors to measure pulse fluctuations.

In support, a survey of 2,000 UK adults found more than half (54%) of Brits consider going on a first date a thrilling experience, and one in six confessed to enjoying the rush of the initial encounter.

The survey of the nation’s daters also found a third of Brits had considered leaving or not turning up to a date due to nerves, and 45 per cent have stuttered and lost their trail of thought.

General manager James Thomas said: “First dates sure are a thrilling experience, the fear of the unknown in any circumstance gets the heart racing, and the heart rate research we’ve undertaken backs this up. The results of our research proved that the UK is a nation of thrill seekers who want to be pushed to the limit and the attraction is set to test just that.

“The Bear Grylls Adventure has been designed to encourage people to test their boundaries, overcome their fears and experience some of the world’s most thrilling experiences all in one place.”

Dr Martin Khechera, senior lecturer in biomedical science at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “It’s no surprise to see heart rates spike before undertaking thrilling experiences and extreme sports, however it is a surprise to see dating, among the top thrills. Perhaps those that go on a blind date this February are braver than we initially thought.”


“When approaching a nerve-racking experience, our bodies usually experience a ‘fight or flight’ response, whereby we notice a rapid increase in heart rate due to an adrenaline rush. Once the initial thrill has taken place, heart rates start to steady, and this is when we get a chance to enjoy and improve our skydiving and even dating skills. The more we get used to pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone the better we get in handling stressful situations. It’s valid to conclude that the more we push ourselves out of our comfort zone by skydiving or taking on heights or even the exhilarating rush of a zip line the better we get in dating.

The adventure park which opens in Birmingham in 2018 will replicate some of Bear Gryll’s adventures, including skydiving, rock climbing, military ropes course and diving.

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Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.


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