Experiment by charity reveals new measure to gauge emotional arousal in exercise, in a bid to keep Britain moving

As part of an ongoing commitment to getting the nation regularly active, the charity, Fusion Lifestyle, has teamed up with Professor Brendan Walker and his experts at The Thrill Laboratory to carry out a unique experiment.  Designed to deliver a better understanding of why some exercises make us feel more alive than others and keep us coming back for more, the experiment has led to the creation of a brand new measure – the ‘Feel Alive Score’

The ‘Feel Alive Score’ registers rapid increases in both pleasure and arousal and looks at how together they produce dopamine-releasing moments of intense thrill and a euphoric high, resulting in a heightened sense of feeling alive. 

The experiment tested volunteers from everyday life including a nurse, social worker and architect and measured arousal and pleasure levels whilst taking part in five different activities – paddle board yoga, sailing, climbing, boot-camp and treadmill.  It was found that activities that create a rollercoaster of different emotions, evoked the strongest pleasure levels and delivered the highest Feel Alive scores.

Sailing delivered the highest overall scores, driven by the extreme emotions experienced as participants put themselves in the hands of instructors and faced the possibility of being flung into the water.  Climbing closely followed sailing as participants once again pushed themselves to the edge of their comfort zones.

Professor Walker commented: “Think of a roller coaster which is designed to deliver many peaks and troughs in pleasure and arousal throughout the experience.  It is the same variety, change and novelty that is key to making us feel so alive and wanting to come back for more.”

To create the Feel Alive Score, new developments in continuous data gathering and analysis were used, with each participant fitted with a chest heart monitor to assess arousal and a head camera to capture a stream of pleasure data – allowing unique analysis of ‘facial expression signatures’.  This data was processed using an adaptation of the Walker Thrill Factor equation, which delivers a score that peaks when significant spikes in arousal (Ax∆A/∆T) and pleasure (Px∆P/∆T) occur together.

Fusion Feel Alive Score = (Ax∆T) x (Px∆T)


Dan Reynolds, Head of Sports and community development at Fusion, added: “Fusion is committed to making centres exciting places to exercise, that people want to use again and again.  This means it’s important for us to understand what makes our customers enjoy getting active and what motivates them to keep doing it.  The Feel Alive Score can help our customers who have trouble sticking to more traditional exercise to find the right activity to help them feel alive and get moving more often.”

To discover the perfect way to keep active and feel alive, simply visit www.feelalive.today/freepass to download a free 2-day pass valid at Fusion centres.

About Fusion

  • Established in 2000, Fusion Lifestyle is a registered charity on a mission to make sport and leisure facilities affordable and accessible to all
  • Across Fusion sites in 2014 participation levels in sport and physical activity increased by 20% and, in recent years, over £150million has been provided for the creation and redevelopment of state-of-the-art leisure facilities
  • 2014 saw 24 million visits to Fusion sites, including 5.5 million by under 19s and 1.6 million by over 60s. The charity also delivered 3.5 million swimming lessons.
  • Fusion works in partnership with local authorities and other public sector organisations to deliver choice and value for customers, helping them to live healthier and more active lives through over 85 sport and leisure facilities across the UK.

About The Thrill Laboratory

  • Thrill Laboratory is dedicated to the practical pursuit of creating, producing, and examining new forms of thrilling experience. Thrill Laboratory is a fluid organisation of scientists, artists, designers, engineers, and technologists all of whom have a passion for experimentation, and an array of artistic accolades and award winning international academic publications. Thrill Laboratory is directed by Professor Brendan Walker, dubbed by The Times as “the world’s only Thrill Engineer” www.thrilllaboratory.com