Get in Fighting Fitness for Game of Thrones

A scientific parody investigation of physical activity and health in Westeros

Posted Apr 11, 2019

As you get ready for the 8th and final season of "Game of Thrones" to drop, why not check out what a physio-psychological research assessment of Game of Thrones would look like...you can read the original article by my colleague Ryan Rhodes and me in the British Journal of Sports Medicine paper "Fight, flight or finished: forced fitness behaviours in Game of Thrones" (it's open access).

Objective: To assess psychosocial and physiological aspects of stress and thriving in “The 7 Kingdoms” world of George RR Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” book series and the “Game of Thrones” television production Seasons 1-6.

Design: Retrospective review.

Setting:  Home viewing lounges of the two study authors and during meandering walks around the University of Victoria Ring Road.

Participants: Arya and Eddard Stark, John Snow, Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, Gregor Clegane, Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne of Tarth, Joffrey Baratheon, Lord Tywin, Varys “the Spider” and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish.

Main outcome measure: Qualitative assessment of adaptability to stress as based on the “fight or flight” response and generalized adaption syndrome of Hans Selye.

Methods: Notation of behavior related to psychosocial and physiological adaption to stresses experienced in the “7 Kingdoms”. Assessment of responses as “fight”, “flight”, or “finished” (deceased—this happens a lot).

Results: Many of the main characters in Game of Thrones show high adaptive ability, at least in the short run. Few have the physiological range to adapt long term. Yet, those that do, do well.

Conclusions: Understanding that the fitness behaviors forced onto the characters in the Game of Thrones are biologically part of our makeup as current humans is an important realization. Those same forced fitness behaviors that keep our favorite characters from meeting unfortunate early ends could also be usefully channeled by us to increase our own activity time. For example, “screen time” is not an issue at King’s Landing.

(c) E. Paul Zehr (2019)