Y'ever met someone who thrives on extreme physical challenges, like running marathons or completing Tough Mudders, and thought, "what the fuck is wrong with you?!"

We all know physical activity is vital, but extreme exercise that results in genuine physical pain can be a little difficult for your average couch potate to understand. 

A friend of mine did a marathon a few years back and her toenails started to fall off. The same girl once got runner's trots and was forced to shit in a bush mid-marathon. To this day, I've always wondered why.

Researchers at Cardiff University in the UK are curious too, and their fresh new research suggests that extreme adventure challenges help nine-to-fivers manage the impact of a sedentary lifestyle and the "anxieties of modern life".


The team of researchers focused on the self-proclaimed "toughest event on the planet", Tough Mudder, to try and nut out why people happily pay for an experience that is mega painful. 

Your average TM course is 18km long and involves crawling through stinky mud, plunging into freezing ice baths, copping electroshocks and navigating monkey bars slicked with butter and mud. Some have died trying to complete it

It's not pleasant. Despite this, 2.5 million people have completed the challenge.

“On the one hand consumers spend billions of dollars every year on pain relief, while exhausting and painful experiences such as obstacle races and ultra-marathons are gaining in popularity. How do we explain that? That’s what we aimed to find out with this research," said Dr Rebecca Scott of Cardiff Business School.

The study found that pain helps individuals negate the physical inactivity of office jobs. Feeling pain brings the body back into focus and allows participants to temporarily disable their self-awareness.


“For individuals who feel that modern office work has made their bodies’ redundant, obstacle racing and other forms of short but intense and painful activities provide a brief but acute reappearance of the body,” said Assistant Professor Julien Cayla, of Nanyang Business School.

So, if you're feeling a bit Linkin Park - Numb, get on the blower to your office drone mates and get around a hard as ferk physical challenge.

ok brian let's blow this popsicle stand

Photo: Justin Setterfield / Getty.