The Surprising Health Benefit of Riding Roller Coasters

A theme park instead of the ER? We’ll take it.

rollercoaster-health
Photo by Michael Marquand/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on TravelandLeisure.com.



Riding a roller coaster could be beneficial for passing kidney stones.

After patients came back from Disney World, a urologist at Michigan State University noticed an interesting pattern: Those who rode medium-intensity roller coasters came back with fewer kidney stones. In fact, one patient told the doctor that he passed a kidney stone every single time he rode Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster.

The evidence was too overwhelming to ignore, Dr. David Wartinger told Quartz. He and a colleague packed up and went down to Orlando to ride Big Thunder Mountain over and over and over again.

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Wartinger fashioned a makeshift kidney using a 3D printer—complete with real stones and urine—and took it on the rollercoaster 200 times to test his hypothesis. The research paper specifically notes that precautions were taken to protect other passengers from the liquid involved in the experiment.

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According to Wartinger’s research, the centripetal force of medium-intensity roller coasters may help patients pass kidney stones smaller than five millimeters, especially if they’re seated near the back of the ride. Roller coasters could also help those who have already had a kidney stone broken up. Once a stone has been broken up, tiny fragments still remain. Riding a coaster could help clear the system of any leftover parts.

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Every year, about 300,000 people seek emergency medical attention for their kidney stones, costing an estimated $2.1 billion in care.