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Doctors warn you can get ADDICTED to running

Doctors warn you can get ADDICTED to running – especially if you jog just to forget about your problems

  • About one in four casual runners show signs of addiction, experts say
  • The new Norwegian study shows which type of people may be most at risk

Joggers who take to the streets to run from their problems can risk becoming addicted to exercise.

About one in four casual runners show signs of addiction — giving up time with loved ones to run instead, and developing withdrawal symptoms when they can’t run.

Now a study shows which type of people may be most at risk.

About one in four casual runners show signs of addiction – giving up time with loved ones to run instead, and developing withdrawal symptoms when they can’t run

The study, which involved 227 recreational runners, found the strongest link to exercise addiction for those who used running to block negative thoughts.

People who used running to improve their lives were less likely to become addicted to running.

Both types of people viewed running as escapism, but researchers emphasize that attitude matters.

Dr. Frode Stenseng, who led the study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said: ‘People who have no choice but to use running to run away from their problems will find that it is bad for them.

“They will have less control over their running if they use it as a coping strategy, so they may become addicted and even feel embarrassed and depressed after running.”

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed runners about their well-being, symptoms of exercise addiction and escapist attitudes toward jogging.

The participants, who ran for two to fifteen hours a week, were found to have a worse joie de vivre when they ran to escape their problems.

The questionnaire given to the participants rated their attitude towards running based on how strongly they agreed with 11 statements about how they felt while running.

Those who agreed more with statements such as “I want to escape myself” and “I shut out the hard things I don’t want to think about” used running as a negative escapism.

Those who used running for positive escapism were more in agreement with phrases like “I am filled with positive energy that carries over to other areas of my life.”

Both attitudes were associated to some degree with sports addiction, but people who used running as a negative escape showed stronger signs of an unhealthy obsession with running.

This was assessed based on agreement with statements such as ‘I cannot reduce the duration of exercise’ and ‘I would rather exercise than spend time with family or friends’.

Dr. Stenseng said: “These findings may give people insight into their own motivation when they take up running.”

HOW MUCH MOVEMENT YOU NEED

To stay healthy, adults ages 19 to 64 should try to be active every day and do the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking per week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis each week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week – for example, 2 x 30 minutes of running plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equals 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous activity produces the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to get your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.

All adults should also interrupt long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: GGZ

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