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Strava encourages obsessive tendencies

Is Strava good for your mental health?

Strava can create “obsessive tendencies which need to be avoided" in cyclists, according to a new university study.

The study explores how fitness apps, such as Strava, affect a person’s wellbeing.

The apps were found to be a “doubled-edged sword” for cyclists.

Although large number of riders use the app to congratulate other cyclists, some use them simply because they need to be told how brilliant they are. 

The research, which comes from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and involved interviews with 272 cyclists, found that fitness apps can help encourage exercise routines, but can also spark an unhealthy attitudes towards fitness.

Researchers found that apps like Strava, Nike+, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and Fitocracy, are ‘gamified’ to provide rewards and encourage users to keep tracking their exercise.

Dr Eoin Whelan, a senior lecturer in business information systems at the JE Cairnes School of Business and Econonics, said: “The majority of exercisers are now using digital technology to track and share their workout data in order to support their fitness goals. But these fitness apps can be a double-edged sword.

“Our study suggests fitness sharing apps can certainly help seed and sustain exercise routines, but there is a danger that some users may develop obsessive tendencies, which need to be avoided."

Those who use Strava for reciprocation give support and encouragement to other athletes, and are more likely to have a healthy passion for cycling.

Conversely, those who use the apps for social recognition – to receive praise and public endorsement – are more likely to become obsessed with the sport and consequently suffer higher stress levels. 

Dr Whelan said: “Fitness app social features which promote self-recognition, such as posting only positive workout data or photos, can be linked to maladaptive perceptions of exercise and burnout in the long run. In contrast, fitness app social features which promote reciprocation, such as giving support and commenting on colleagues’ activities, are likely to lead to adaptive outcomes.”

The full study, ‘How the social dimension of fitness apps can enhance and undermine wellbeing’, is published in the journal Information Technology & People. 

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flyingpitman | 4 years ago

It should be renamed Bragva,especially if you use Zwift with it.A guy up here brags,brags,brags about going 25mph on Zwift.He can't hit 17mph for real,yet he brags on how good he is,and he says it's on Strava.He's what we call a Strava warrior,never raced nor likely too, as his segments are all he lives for.It's sad really.I wonder how many would still ride their bikes if they had No use.Don't get me wrong it's a good tool,as are Fulgaz,and Rouvy.But not the Be all and end all.I'd rather go on a club run with friends than chase a Strava segment,as the warriors will be dissapointed when the fast lads get the tail wind.If you want to go fast and get kudos get a number on your back.

Rik Mayals unde... | 4 years ago

I only went on Strava last year, my profile is private apart from 5 friends who follow me. The only reason why I signed up was to take advantage of being able to see how many miles you have done each year, and how many feet you have climbed. It's much easier to view than on Garmin connect, for example. 

Secret_squirrel | 4 years ago

I totally agree with the research it's not at all like I had shed full of bikes and bits of bikes and a wardrobe full of kit long before Strava came along.


Organon | 4 years ago

I did have to make my Strava profile private after getting random kudos on every ride from places like Brazil and Malaysia. The people giving the thumbs up all had hundreds or thousands of followers and just wanted more. I now only follow or am followed by local riders.

cdamian replied to Organon | 4 years ago
1 like

I just recently switched to private rides by default and just publish the nice ones. As I am logging everything including commutes and trainer rides I don't want to spam everybody.
I also stopped paying them for Summit and analyze my fitness now mostly in Garmin Connect.
If you are already showing obsessive tendencies when using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter then another site certainly won't make a difference.

dave atkinson replied to cdamian | 4 years ago
1 like

yeah that's where i am now. i don't think anyone really cares that i rode into work except me. it's nice to see people's big rides though. i use the Elevate plug-in for fitness tracking, it's pretty good.

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