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Obsessive runners could be putting themselves at increased risk of injury

There is definitely a downside to excessive physical activity

Photo (c) FOTOKITA - Getty Images
As many consumers look to incorporate more physical activity into their day-to-day routines, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia is exploring a potential risk associated with too much exercise. 

In a study focused on running, they found that consumers could be at an increased risk for injuries when they become obsessed with training and run too often. 

“Most running-related injuries are sustained as a result of overtraining and overuse or failing to adequately recover, merely due to an obsessive passion for running,” said researcher Jan de Jonge. “The majority of research focuses on the physical aspects of overtraining and lack of recovery time, but the mental aspects of running-related injuries have been ignored to date.” 

The mental component of running

The researchers conducted a survey of nearly 250 runners to best determine what effect the activity can have on injuries. It gauged how invested the participants were in running and what role it played in their daily lives. 

The researchers learned that when running was the biggest part of participants’ lives, meaning it interfered with their daily tasks or was chosen instead of other social obligations, runners were more likely to get injured. Additionally, they were more likely to ignore early warning signs of an injury and often ran through the pain to ensure they didn’t miss a run. 

However, when running wasn’t the center of participants’ lives, they were less likely to get injured and more likely to take the proper precautions if they felt an injury coming on. 

Too much of a good thing

The survey also revealed that obsessive runners’ mental attachment to the activity often surpassed their health or well-being. 

While it’s important to stay active for mental and physical health reasons, the researchers warn against turning a hobby into an obsession. 

“When running becomes obsessive, it leads to problems,” said de Jonge. “It controls the person’s life at the expense of other people and activities and leads to more running-related injuries. This behaviour has also been reported in other sports, including professional dancing and cycling.” 

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