Soccer fan Henrik Gerdin is a contented man. His team scored a late equalizer, he won a bet and his heart rate officially rose above orgasm level.
The 25-year-old Swede was part of an ongoing World Cup experiment by England's Loughborough University to test the effect that placing a bet on a game of soccer has on fans' heart rates. "The heart rates that we have recorded throughout the first stage of the study are in line with those experienced by an individual reaching sexual climax, and in some cases greater than that," said Loughborough's Prof. Ron Maughan, whose research expertise includes nutrition of exercise performance.
The study will last as long as England remains in the World Cup and measures levels of stress - or excitement - experienced by English fans and supporters of teams playing England. Gerdin bet 100 pounds ($182; euro145) at 20-1 on Sweden drawing 2-2 with England in their Group B match. Henrik Larsson scored a 90th minute equalizer in the June 20 encounter for a full-time score of 2-2, triggering wild celebrations by Swedish fans in the Cologne stadium _ and Gerdin in the London control room.
"He was literally going crazy," said Simon Greening, an England fan also participating in the experiment. "I would have been too." All participating fans were paid 100 pounds by gambling Web site betfair.com, sponsors of the study, and half the supporters were required to place a bet.
"It was a gut feeling," Gerdin said of his winning bet. "I was thinking about it the whole day and just went for it." He won 2,000 pounds ($3,650, euro2,890).
So far, says betfair.com, the results show betting on the World Cup can be more exciting than sex, to judge by your heart rate at least.
"We knew that football fans were passionate about their team, but these results really prove that for some football is better than sex," Maughan said in a statement. "When you combine supporting your team with backing them financially, the level of excitement gets even greater."
Participants in the group stage of the World Cup had an average heart rate of 120 beats per minute. According to the American Heart Association, during orgasm a person's heart rate ranges from 90 to 145 b.p.m., with an average peak of 115 b.p.m. The average resting heart beats 70 times a minute.
Gerdin had the highest heart rate of the three study sessions with an average of 133 b.p.m., and a whopping peak of some 168 b.p.m.
All participants in the study are required to wear a heart rate monitor and fill out a questionnaire before the game, at halftime and afterward, asking them how stressed and excited they felt.
Participants also give three saliva samples to measure the amount of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. The inspiration for the study was a research paper about a higher rate of heart attacks occurring days after England's loss to Argentina on penalty kicks in the 1998 World Cup.