Run rage! A jog can make you angry and aggressive… because it’s so boring

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • US researchers analysed data from more than 10,000 people

The calories burned and the endorphins released on even a gentle run have long been a proven boon to health.

But now jogging faces its toughest headline since Jim Fixx – credited with sparking the global running revolution – dropped dead from a heart attack while out for his morning trot in 1984.

For jogging can make people angry and more aggressive because it is repetitive and boring, according to a new study.

US researchers, who analysed data on more than 10,000 people, say that runners should bin their trainers and take up yoga or aerobics if they want to be less angry.

Dr Sophie Kjaervik, who led the study at the Ohio State University, said: ‘The finding was something of a surprise. We expected activities like boxing to increase anger, but not jogging.

US researchers, who analysed data on more than 10,000 people, say that runners should bin their trainers and take up yoga or aerobics if they want to be less angry. (Stock Image.)

‘Popular wisdom suggests that going for a run reduces anger and aggression, but it does not. Going for a run is good for your heart, but it is not good for managing anger. We found that jogging in particular elevated anger. 

READ MORE: Running works just as well as antidepressants to boost mental health, study suggests

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‘This may be because it involves repetitive movements, which can be monotonous and lead to boredom or frustration, increasing the likelihood of experiencing anger.

‘Some individuals may also feel like they have less control during jogging exercises, which may lead to feelings of anger.’

The team analysed worldwide research data on sporting and recreational activities and their links with anger management.

Analysis from 154 studies involving 10,189 men and women was included. Activities ranged from kickboxing, punching a bag and shooting a paintball gun to cycling, swimming and yoga.

Levels of anger, aggression and hostility were measured in questionnaires.

Participants had to agree or not agree with statements such as: ‘I sometimes feel like a powder keg ready to explode’, and ‘given enough provocation, I may hit another person’.

Results show that jogging and stair-climbing significantly increased anger, while ball games and aerobic exercises had a calming effect. 

Yoga, meditation and similar activities were also soothing because they reduce physiological arousal.

High levels of arousal trigger the so-called ‘fight or flight’ response and increase both stress levels and the likelihood of anger.

The researchers, writing in Clinical Psychology Review, said: ‘We found that decreasing physiological arousal can reduce anger and aggression, supporting the notion that turning down the flame can decrease the heat. 

‘Our findings suggest that although regular physical activity has many health benefits, it does not have anger management benefits.’

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